Rabat, March 10, MAP.
Mr. Rachid BENMOKHTAR, Minister of National Education and Vocational Training, emphasized that foreign languages, particularly with regard to teaching scientific subjects, are necessary to improve future generations’ opportunities to access the job market and enhance Morocco’s competitiveness in a constantly changing world.
In an interview with MAP (Maghreb Arab Press), Mr. BENMOKHTAR considered that improving foreign languages, together with the Kingdom’s two official ones (Arabic and Tamazight) can increase students’ opportunities to easily access the job market. Besides, this will allow them to discover sciences “which is a necessary thing; taking into account the strategic position of Morocco which is a party to several agreements with a number of Spanish and English speaking countries”.
He, on the other hand, stressed that teaching foreign languages will have no negative impact on the position of Arabic in the national education system; that improving the teaching of foreign languages does by no means stand for neglecting Arabic, emphasizing that it is necessary to distinguish between Arabic as a language of instruction and teaching Arabic, and concentrate on improving the methods of teaching it.
He said that the 2015-2030 vision makes Arabic the main teaching language in primary, lower secondary and secondary education levels and, at the same time, enhances foreign languages. All the initiatives aiming at improving the yield of education are based on improving the teaching of Arabic. Mr. BENMOKHTAR mentioned in this regard that, in the future, some subjects of the lower secondary and secondary education levels will be gradually taught in French.
He added that students will start learning English from the fourth year of the primary education. Regarding French, it will be taught through a new method at the lower secondary education in order to help students increase their proficiency and prepare them to learn some subjects in French when they move to the secondary level.
Concerning the promotion of foreign languages, Mr. BENMOKHTAR stated that the focus will be on scientific and technological subjects and all the subjects that have an important potential in the job market, such as business management and logistics, in order to prepare students for the language used in the market. Mr. Rachid mentioned in this regard that this is a long process which necessitates seriousness, particularly through training the teachers and changing the curricula.
He mentioned that the majority of references are published in English then translated into French and Spanish, while the Arabic version takes a long time to be obtained because of the difficulties related to research selection and translation.
After emphasizing that English will occupy a special place in the national education system, especially after the success of some experiments related to applying a new model and pedagogy of teaching English, Mr. BENMOKHTAR mentioned that the “Access” program will be enlarged in order to include a number of lower secondary education institutions and become the basis of teaching English. He added that teachers will concurrently be trained in English to go hand in hand with the new changes.
According to Mr. BENMOKHTAR, the difficulties to find a job are more related to graduates’ weak mastery of languages and communication skills than to weakness in other competencies.
On the other hand, Mr. BENMOKHTAR stressed that, in accordance with the high royal instructions contained in the Throne Day speech of July 30, 2015, the vocational training is a priority in the Ministry’s programs.
He explained that the Ministry strives to change the parents and students’ general perception of vocational training as an “alternative for the non successful students”, considering that obtaining diplomas is not more important than mastering knowledge and competences.
In this regard, he said that the countries where the proportion of employment-related problems is low are those who give more importance to vocational training, such as Switzerland, Germany, Sweden and Austria, whose education systems are mainly based on vocational training.
He said that the Ministry is looking forward to giving vocational training the position it deserves “in a way that opens various horizons for students especially for the purpose of accelerating their integration in the job market and meeting the needs of businesses.”
In this context, he stressed the principle of early orientation which will be gradually established from the primary level through making students aware of the importance of professions, making them respect their practitioners and enabling them to discover them, considering that the Moroccan society is in need of all professions.
Mr. BENMOKHTAR recalled the establishment of the professional baccalaureate and the professional course in the lower secondary and secondary levels, which was carried out in partnership with businesses and professional federations. The professional course in the lower secondary level relates to the handicraft, mechanics and tourism, while the professional baccalaureate relates to aviation, automotive, textile and agriculture. The minister said in this regard that 17 economic fields, including renewable energies, are targeted.
According to Mr. BENMOKHTAR, this is a comprehensive review and urgent project based on a very sophisticated orientation system (web portal, presence of some businesses in schools, training in the field of business leadership and business creation).
From another perspective, and for the purpose of accompanying the advanced regionalization, Mr. BENMOKHTAR stressed that the Ministry has won the bet of accelerating this process since January 2016, especially through appointing the new directors of the regional academies in accordance with the new territorial division.
The minister talked about the meeting he recently held with the central, regional and provincial directors of education and training which was crowned by signing the accountability charter. The latter determines the principles and ethics directors should respect while exercising their missions.
This chart is based on responsibility and partnership, and it aims at giving more independence to regional academies and provincial directorates in managing the field of education.
On the other hand, and regarding the gender issue, Mr. BENMOKHTAR stressed the importance the Ministry gives to this question, which is reflected in launching the revision of textbooks and the administrative management of the personnel, adding that the Ministry adopts a budget that takes gender parity into account.
He felt sorry to see that only few women get positions of responsibility. In his opinion, this does not reflect their real contribution to the education system, justifying the fact that they do not apply for such positions by the difficulty of assuming double responsibility: the social responsibility and the professional one.
Mr. BENMOKHTAR concluded saying that changing the national education system and providing for “a better future to the coming generations and the country’s future” are possible, expressing his determination to pursue this reform program in harmony with the Constitution and in application of the high royal instructions.
The interview was conducted by Amal TAZI and Sanaa BENASSRI