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School Violence in Morocco

-          Introduction

Morocco’s public school have become a stage where the dramatic phases of violent acts are taking place, which gone wild and viral. This latter’s prevalence and currency is led by diverse agents that gave the birth of several social, economic and cultural issues where Obstacles, for Morocco’s educational ministry as well as NGOs, seem as many as hard to be solved in treating this phenomenon.


     The Moroccan education system is divided into two sectors (public and private), with the public sector “encompassing 93% of overall education settings.” Private schools are either Moroccan or under foreign cultural missions (mainly French, American and Spanish). Additionally, the Moroccan education system is divided into four levels—pre-school, primary, secondary and high school. (Manara Network for Child Rights)

Morocco’s educational system

The Moroccan education system was putted under improvement where “in 1999, the Charter for National Education and Training was followed in 2009 by an “Emergency Plan” to accelerate the implementation of the reform during the following years.” This “emergency plan” includes 23 projects and stresses four specified objectives:

(i)    To make effective the obligation of education until 15 years old;

(ii)    Stimulate initiative and excellence in high school and college;

(iii)    Confront all issues of the education system;

(iv)    Provide the means to success. Moreover, the State increased the budget allocated to education in 2010 with 26% of the global budget dedicated to Education, an increase of 6.9% comparing to 2004. However, according to the report on the situation of Children in Morocco for the 20th anniversary of the CRC by the National Observatory for Child Rights (NOCR) and UNICEF, widespread education has not yet been achieved, school dropout rates remain high and the quality of education is still subject to sharp criticism. (Manara Network for Child Rights)

Lastly, a report on the situation of Children in Morocco by the National Observatory for Child Rights (NOCR) and UNICEF, “widespread education has not yet been achieved, school dropout rates remain high and the quality of education is still subject to sharp criticism.” (Manara Network for Child Rights)

Violence in Moroccan public schools

Violence has become frequent in the Moroccan public school in variable modes, and miscellaneous types, where some of those types on the one hand are, commonly, defined and visible, and others on the other are rarely identified or spoken about.

§  Known types of violence

In accord to an only study, which was done in Morocco, on violence in schools, “the prevalence of violence in Moroccan schools is extremely high, and the use of corporal punishment is the most commonly used method of discipline.” (Manara Network for Child Rights)

Another study in Morocco of the MNE and UNICEF, in collaboration with the School of Psychology confirms that “in 2005, 87% of children recognised that they had been the victim of physical violence at school at the hands of teachers and administrators.” (..) In Morocco physical violence “is expressed in different ways: blows with iron rulers, tying children’s legs with a rope to render them immovable, blows to the hands and fingertips, slapping, electrocution (on the chest, legs and hands), kicking, and making children raise their feet for two hours.” (Manara Network for Child Rights)

Comparatively psychological violence in Morocco, according to the study by the MNE and UNICEF in collaboration with the School of Psychology, “is the second most common type of violence in schools” (..), where “35% of students were subject to verbal violence” (..). For teachers and administrators, they resort to the use of multiple ways to “psychologically assault students including insults, segregation from the group, threats and intimidation, humiliation, depriving them of speaking and going out at recess, depriving them from having classes and sport lessons, and deleting their notes.” (Manara Network for Child Rights)

In Morocco, as reflected in the experience of the School of Psychology, “the subject of sexual violence is taboo.” In addition, while interviewing some students, “a question about rape was translated precisely in classical Arabic, but still misunderstood by the children. Language barriers hamper efforts to measure the prevalence of sexual violence, as the Arabic language is restricted in its terminology when describing sexual actions and the different forms of sexual assault”. (Manara Network for Child Rights)

Another study conducted in Morocco points out that “sexual violence is present in Moroccan schools”. Between January and October 2010, M. Raji, director of the NOCR states that “eight cases of sexual abuse were reported to the centre’s listening centre out of a total of 40 cases of various kinds of assault. Of the eight cases, six of the victims were boys and two girls.” (Manara Network for Child Rights)

§  Other types of violence

A student fell asleep in class because of the tiring road he takes to go to school- in a rural area (Used with permission taken by Haitam Derdari)

According to “The Real Violence in Moroccan Schools”, an article of Amjad Hemidach done on march 10, 2015, the Moroccan public school receives other types of violence. It says that: “the truth is that conflict has always existed between the two parties as a result of the deplorable school conditions”. However, “those who begrudge teachers incriminate them as if they are the only defendants. They apply double standards and turn a blind eye to pivotal issues that represent the real violence against all stakeholders in Morocco’s education system”. Moreover, he points out a group of unknown or unidentified types of violence, (genuine violence, blatant violence and conspicuous violence) stated as follows: “Genuine violence is when a student wakes up at 5 o’clock in the morning and walks one hour to attend classes, enduring the cold, the heat, and a weak infrastructure, and complaining about the lack of transportation and the fear of being mugged or sexually assaulted on the way”; “Blatant violence is when students use chalkboards and have to pay for resources like photocopies of extra exercises or flashcards”; “Conspicuous violence is when the Ministry of Education prioritizes statistics, while is oblivious to the quality of education that has contributed to the surge in cheating.” (Hemidach)

Additionally, he groups others under the name of “real violence”, where he explains what violence in Moroccan public schools really is, he states:

Real violence is when students of the elite and the privileged have visas and access to excellent schools outside the country, while impoverished people in rural areas waste their time in split-grade classrooms, isolated from civilization and deprived of the technology that would link them to the world; real violence is when students spend the whole day in a school, rambling aimlessly during breaks because their houses are far away, and the school lacks basic facilities such as libraries, multimedia rooms, and playgrounds where students can unwind; real violence is when students attend crowded classes where conditions do not match methods of teaching, causing frustration for both teachers and students; “real violence is when private schools exist only for students from rich families and public ones are designed for those who cannot afford to pay the fees, creating a gap in social classes and making education a privilege of the wealthy; real violence is when families are often unable to fully provide for their children because they are preoccupied with earning money to survive, and yet they expect the teachers to turn their children into doctors and engineers, assuming that they have magic recipes; real violence is when drug addiction is inexorable among students who are in need of social assistance, medical care, and more attention; real violence is when students enter the classroom with no willingness to study, because their brothers and sisters who have already graduated and have been unable to find work here, are forced to resort to emigration; real violence is when teachers are shocked at the gap between the theories they learn at the training canters and the reality of infrastructure at schools; real violence is when all these issues and others contribute to the failure of our education system, while those who are behind desks adopt outlandish measures to contribute to this vicious circle; real violence is when we know the source of problems but are unwilling to bring about   change for fear of wasting energy, time, and money; real violence is when students and teachers want to bring about positive change, and stakeholders provide little or no support. (Hemidach)

Cases of violence in Morocco’s public schools

Recently, cases of violence in Moroccan public schools are occurring increasingly, further, the information spread on social media pointing acts of violence, as well as a variety of articles are written concerning such cases, we will be dealing with three of them.

The first one is written on May 22, 2017 by Safae Kasraoui which is called “Moroccan Teacher Verbally and Physically Abuses a Student During Class” addressing an audio recording of a secondary school teacher physically and verbally abusing one of his students in Marrakech that gone viral, where she states that “at the beginning of the recording, the middle school teacher is heard cursing and calling the student demeaning names”. She quotes from the recording his words insulting the poor girl saying:

Say something if you can, I will beat the hell out of you, you are just a childish [ …] I swear to God that I will make you fail the exams. Stay in the 8th grade until you are drop out of school in order to wash dishes for girls who are better than you […] what are you expecting, a prince charming, like that is gonna happen! You are not even beautiful, you are scary. (Kasraoui)

“The student attempts to defend herself by saying that she did not talk and that the teacher should stop insulting her in front of her classmates, but the teacher”, Safae Kasraoui adds “does not take her plea into account”. Then she quotes again:

I will talk to you as I please and I will even beat you […] you are not leaving the classroom, I am the teacher here and I am the only one who gives orders, you did not want to mind your own business you are acting like you are the teacher here [ …] you are a student and I am the teacher […] who do you think you are. You are even stupid and you know nothing. Why are you here? Why are you in the 8th grade? My own daughter is in the third grade and she reads better than you. (Kasraoui)

At the end of the recording, she says, at one point, that “the teacher starts beating the student.” Then she finalizes by saying that “the shocking recording has led to a discussion of violence in Moroccan schools and some teachers’ abusive behaviour towards their students”. (Kasraoui)

The second is an article written by Chaima Lahsini, on November 23, 2017, named “School Violence Continues: Casablanca Student Slices Teacher’s Face”. She starts by presenting Rachida Meklouf, the victim, who is “a teacher at El Houssein Ben Ali high school in Casablanca, was gruesomely attacked with a knife by her 17-years-old student upon leaving the institution Wednesday evening”. Then she moves on to describe the incident quoting the story said by the victim: “I was leaving the school Wednesday at 6pm, when I suddenly felt a sharp hit on my shoulder. When I turned around, something sharp flew across my face. I didn’t know what it was exactly, I just held my jaw as blood poured down my blouse.”, “I didn’t think much of it, even when another pupil came to warn me that he [the attacker] was planning to attack me with a knife Tuesday evening, I simply brushed it off as the shenanigans of teenagers and carried on with my work” Maklouf recounts. (Lahsini)

Last, “Shocking Video of Student Beating Teacher Sparks Intense Debate on Violence in Moroccan Schools” another article written by Safaa Kasraoui on November 7, 2017 about “a 17-year old student violently beat one of his teachers during a class” she says: “a shocking video, shot at the school in the south of Morocco on October 31 and posted on social media a few days later, shows the teenage boy repeatedly punching his teacher, a man in his 50s, in the face.” Moreover, she describes:

The video shows several students intervening to try to stop their classmate, entreating him “to let the teacher go.” The teenager steps back for a few seconds, as the teacher upbraids one of his other students for not helping him while the student was beating him. The first student comes back again to assault the teacher even more violently, punching him and knocking him to the ground. (Kasraoui, Shoking Video of Student Beating Teacher Sparks Intense Debate on Violence in Moroccon Schools)

The 17-year old attacker, she adds, “was arrested on Sunday pending investigation into the circumstances of the assault and the teenager’s motives.” In addition, she says: “many also pointed out the passive neutrality and complicity by the attacker’s classmates. Larbi Arbaoui, a high school teacher from the region, described the scene as like a “play performed by the students, who were enjoying the show.”” (Kasraoui, Shoking Video of Student Beating Teacher Sparks Intense Debate on Violence in Moroccon Schools)

Reasoning the causes leading to this phenomenon

Issam Eddine Jalal claims in his article “School Violence in Morocco: who is to blame?” that “violence comes from within the environment itself; the environment which would soon shock anyone who has never been to our public schools.” Supporting his claim by offering evidences and reasons. (Jalal)

He starts in his article by talking about the walls that are “overloaded with tilted phrases, sentences and sometimes paragraphs” he says that “those writings translate waves of negative emotions towards the school, the administration staff and more importantly, the teachers. Regardless of the credibility of the complaints and allegations expressed in those writings, we cannot deny that the problem starts right here. However, most people in charge of that sacred environment seem to neglect this part”. Moreover, “the broken windows and doors, the shabby desks and tables not to mention the nasty toilets. Granted, most of these unfortunate conditions are caused by the students themselves” and the cause is that “students do not find the proper way to channel all that energy into something positive and fruitful” he explains. (Jalal)

Additionally, whenever he “searches for reasons” he usually comes to the same conclusion that “the majority of students are not motivated at all. Besides the typical problems that they may be going through at home with their families or at school with their peers, students do not see a lot of benefits in schooling.” And greater than that, “the high rates of unemployment nowadays, especially among college graduates is a phenomenon that affects the motivation of high school students.” Another reason, he added, which is, “painfully obvious” that “quantity is favoured over quality in our educational system, which is frustrating for the students who have to take all that material in and the teachers who have to pave the way for all that material to set in.” (Jalal)

Furthermore, he talks about the “disturbing practice” that “takes place mostly within the surroundings of the school is drug addiction and drug dealing.” thus, he says that “most of the school violence incidents that happened lately were associated in a way or another with drug use.” (Jalal)

Then, he moves on to point out some reasons related to teachers, on the one hand he says: “perhaps, some teachers have lost track of the noble objectives tied to their profession.” Or, “like their students, have become constantly restless and aggressive due to the overall dire conditions of our Moroccan public school”, on the other, “some people accuse teachers of provoking such violent acts by engaging in a series of unethical practices like using abusive language in class or using the grading system for money-spinning purposes.” But for him such acts “do not justify the horrifying violence incidents we have witnessed in our schools lately.” Comparably, “there is always a fine line between what should be and what there is” given that “teachers themselves are under constant pressure; whether it is the hefty curriculum they are obliged to finish on time, or the unbearable conditions in which they work.”  (Jalal)

It is quite obvious, when Issam Eddine concluded in his article, that the reason behind all this “can easily be tied to the inefficiency of school as an institution that cultivates the morality of society.” Since “society as a whole has become under constant pressure, and violence has become a daily practice in our public places and even homes.” Hence, “school could not escape the outbreak of this phenomenon.” (Jalal)

Consequences resultant from this phenomenon

The prevalence of violence in Moroccan public schools became cultural and normal, where violence is something crucial for child nurturing for parents and schools. As for Morocco, “most of the time parents are aware of physical punishment towards their children but accept it, even if they do not use physical violence themselves.” (Manara Network for Child Rights)

In accord to other several studies conducted in Morocco, “corporal punishment and the use of violence are part of the culture and are perceived as the most useful pedagogical tools for the majority of teachers.” (Manara Network for Child Rights)

Additionally, victims of violence, according to some recent cases, whether teachers or students the results of such harm may end up in a short term effects, most of the time physical harms, as well as long term ones which are mainly psychological, we can sense that in Maklouf’s harmful case, as represented before, where “she shows her blood-stained white blouse to the camera.” And says “I chose this profession because I love it, it is a noble mission. We want to educate our students, provide them with the best education we can, but now, we are simply afraid of them”. (Lahsini)

The role of educational ministry system

Manara Network for child rights pointed that “the ministry of education in Morocco has issued internal regulations, decrees, and ministerial notes prohibiting the use of violence in schools.” However, “monitoring of these ministerial notes is not a mandate in itself, but rather one task among others designated to specific bodies’ resident within schools or that visit schools periodically.” Moreover, its sources confirm that “the responsibility for monitoring and reporting cases of violence in schools falls primarily on the school administration and the system of oversight by the ministries of education is mainly reactive.” Where “no evidence of specific monitoring or assessment indicators of violence in schools was found.” Besides, “the effectiveness of the inspectors in Morocco as monitors of violence in schools essentially depends on the numbers of cases reported to the inspectors, which is low.” (Manara Network for Child Rights)

To Manara Network “Morocco’s educational framework gives its school principals full responsibility for the protection of children and the school environment. In principle, Morocco’s complex administrative framework is meant to counteract the possibility of violence;” meaning that “the positions such as the censeur can monitor the reasons behind the use of violence, such as absenteeism, delays, incomplete homework, and lack of discipline.” In practice, however, Manara Network states that the monitoring conducted is not integrated within a comprehensive child protection strategy. (Manara Network for Child Rights)

NGOs position toward treating this phenomenon

Manara Network suggests that “violence against children is a concern for Morocco.” Or in fact, “Morocco drafted or is drafting national strategies for childhood. These strategies each include a component related to the protection of children from violence, and more specifically from violence in schools.” (Manara Network for Child Rights)

In Morocco, Manara States that “the National Action Plan for Childhood (NAPC) (2006-2015) commits the State to deploy efforts nationally and regionally.” And one objective of the NAPC is to “make progress for the child to have the right to protection” another one of the looked forwardly from this objective is that “the mechanisms for child’s protection against violence at school are put in place”. While this result, Manara adds, should be reached through the implementation of some actions which are as follows:

(i)    Identifying sources and forms of violence in school;

(ii)    Elaborating violence control and prevention procedures to be shared;

(iii)    Integrating behaviours and risks of violence into support programs;

(iv)    Promoting non-violent culture and behaviours;

(v)    Evaluating implementation of the procedure put in place. (Manara Network for Child Rights)

Training initiatives have been identified in Morocco, as Manara Network pointed that “these training sessions are delivered by the ministry of education and local NGOs or international organisations to teachers and other school staff, children and parents.” However, Morocco’s training activities are more specific to non-governmental organisations. (Manara Network for Child Rights)

As mentioned by the Manara Network “International organisations and local NGOs are active in Morocco.” For example, “in December 2009, UNRWA trained 20 of its staff members on the General Staff Circular in the education department. The circular discusses sexual exploitation and abuse and the possible punishment for perpetrating them,” as well as “Educational Technical Instructions that prohibit verbal and non-verbal abuse.” (Manara Network for Child Rights)

Additionally, in accord to Manara Network, local NGOs worked with teachers and school staff, where “teachers volunteering in the Listening and Orientation Centres put in place by the National Association for the Students in Difficulty had access to training provided by psychologists, social assistants, judges or any other specialised person needed.” The Moroccan Association for Promoting Women’s Rights (FAMA) “also delivered training in club creation, their legal status and listening techniques.” (Manara Network for Child Rights)

Moreover, Manara says that “the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (MAHR), within its inclusive education program, put in place the Ibn Rochd programme which aimed at training 200 teachers, with gender balance, on human and child rights.”where “in 2009 and 2010, Save the Children Spain, in partnership with local partners Espace Associatif, Forum des Femmes Maroc in Al-Hoceima, Amej Maroc in Sale and Ared Maroc in Taza, carried out training sessions in inclusive education that focused on changing and modifying teaching methods, school management and education planning.” Comparably, parents training hardly exists in Morocco. (Manara Network for Child Rights)

“Since 2008, Save the Children Spain in partnership with Association de Recherche Féminine pour le Développement et la Coopération (ARFEDEC) and Association AMNA has implemented programming to create Listening Centres in Moroccan schools.” Through this project, “social workers visit schools in order to provide students with a focal person who they can talk to and to whom they can report cases of violence, among other things.” (Manara Network for Child Rights)

Awareness initiatives and campaigns in Morocco, apart from the new educational positions created in Moroccan schools, Manara provided that “UNICEF Morocco launched with the support of the MNE a “School of Quality” programme, which includes a component addressing the problem of violence in schools.” As part of this programme, “UNICEF held an awareness campaign in the six regions where UNICEF intervenes in Morocco during the school year 2005-2006. The campaign consisted of an “Open Door Day””, where “UNICEF and the MNE focused on raising awareness of all actors inside and outside the school on the issue of violence in school, using the results of the 2005 study conducted by the MNE and UNICEF in collaboration with the School of Psychology.” According to the Education programme manager of UNICEF Morocco, says Manara Network, “these campaigns had a real impact.” Where “three of the regions put in place an action plan after this integrated strategy was implemented (Marrakech-Tensift El Haouz, Souss Massa Draa and Al-Hoceima-Taza-Taounate).” In addition, “these regional integrated strategies led to the creation of listening and orientation centres responsible for providing support, but also for preventing violence in schools. These listening and orientation centres, mainly present in Marrakech-Tensift El Haouz, are holding local activities to prevent and fight violence within the schools.” (Manara Network for Child Rights)

-          Conclusion

Violence within the Moroccan context is still concedered as something normal and cultural where the public school does not escape its traps, although the Moroccan education vision is under emblematical improvements, some areas still lack the appropriate educational circumstances, while the prevalence of violence is promoting more challenges through the creation of more new complex problems.



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