Morocco introduces school fees for well-to-do
No easy answers. A school teacher helps students read in Rabat. (AFP)
2018/01/14 Issue: 139 Page: 3
The Arab Weekly
Casablanca- The Moroccan government, planning to introduce registration fees for wealthy Moroccans, is moving to end universal free public education.
The governing council has adopted the first framework law that would regulate the public education sector, which has gone through many reforms over several decades to no avail, with a fee issue part of the new regulations.
“This is a great moment for Morocco, which since independence has failed to agree on the legal principles that should govern our education system,” said Secretary of State for Higher Education and Scientific Research Khalid Samadi.
Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani said he regretted reports that the draft law included a suppression of free higher education, stressing that it “is completely false.”
Othmani categorically denied the government’s intention to scrap free higher education.
“The framework law introduces registration fees for wealthy families but maintains free education for the poor, middle and precarious classes,” said Othmani.
Moroccan government spokesman Mustapha El Khalfi echoed the prime minister.
“Only wealthy and affluent families will contribute at the registration level, as part of a law that will be adopted soon. Poor families are not affected by this financial effort,” said Khalfi.
The 36-page measure includes the recommendations of the 2015- 30 vision of the Higher Council for Education, Training and Scientific Research (HCETSR). The plan calls for the generalisation of education, linguistic diversity, reducing the number of school dropouts, reforming the orientation system and advocating creation of a special fund for lower-class families who cannot afford to send their children to school.
It is to be presented to the Council of Ministers, led by King Mohammed VI. Once adopted by parliament, a national commission, led by the head of the Moroccan government, will monitor implementation of the reforms.
Noureddine Ayouch, an HCETSR member, said the article that relates to the imposition of registration fees also mandates that the state will pay financial aid to those with limited financial means.
“The fees charged will benefit the students through the grants that will be provided to them. The teachers will also benefit by improving their wages, allowing them to live in dignity and to carry out their professional duties and therefore improve public education in the country,” Ayouch told Assabah daily.
He said families would not refuse to pay fees if they were guaranteed a certain quality in the public education sector.
The amounts paid in the registration would depend on families’ income. The Interior Ministry is conducting a statistical study to determine and classify the income of households.
Youssef Allakouch, secretary-general of the Autonomous Federation of Education, criticised the draft law for the fact that it was difficult to identify and prove the financial capabilities of rich and poor families.
“The government should resolve the debate by declaring public education from primary to university free while working to reduce the disparities between private and public education so that we do not devote the elite education to the wealthy and worsen public education,” Allakouch told noonpresse.ma.
“Families should restore confidence in education rather than deepen the gap between them.”
Most middle- and upper-class families put their children in private schools because of the deteriorating public education system.
“I don’t see a problem in introducing registration fees in higher education and high schools but is it worth paying if the education system is still underperforming?” asked civil servant Abdelilah Dghiss, the father of two children in private schools.