In national address, King of Morocco calls for stronger links between education, skills, and markets

On Tuesday, August 20, in an address on the 60th anniversary of the Revolution of the King and the People, King Mohammed VI outlined his pride, hopes, and vision for his country’s educational sector. Remarkably, he spent less than two sentences on what had been accomplished with far more attention paid to where Morocco must go to secure its future.

The king spoke about “another revolution, which I am spearheading with a view to developing human resources, achieving economic and social progress, and promoting a dignified life for our citizens.” He noted the dedication of Moroccan parents to a good education for their children, and tied the development of the country’s human resources to good citizenship, largely abetted by family cohesion and a strong and relevant educational sector.

“Nevertheless, we still have a long, arduous journey ahead of us if we are to enable this sector [education and training] to actually play its role as an engine for the achievement of economic and social advancement,” he announced.

To make this happen, King Mohammed made several critical recommendations. First of all, noting that Moroccans had to master at least two languages to acquire university degrees, he encourages Moroccans to become proficient in foreign languages to “thus expand their knowledge base, refine their skills, and gain competence needed to be able to work in Morocco’s new professions and areas of employment, in which there is a significant shortage of skilled workers.” He then went on to emphasize technical and vocational training grounded in skills needs of the marketplace, from high tech manufacturing and IT to artisanal crafts that serve the tourism industry.

Building on lessons learned

Referring to the kingdom’s Education Action Plan 2013-2016, King Mohammed made a point that education policy should not be subject to re-invention with every new administration and should build on the experience of previous programs. “It hardly makes sense for each government to come with a new plan every five years and disregard previous programs…The education sector should, therefore, not be included in the sphere of purely political matters, not should its management be subjected to outbidding tactics or party politics.”

Referring to the disparities in quality between the private and public educational systems, the king called for speedy adoption of educational reforms he previously addressed and called for “implementation of the constitutional provisions regarding the Higher Council for Education, Training, and Scientific Research,” which is charged with implementing national reforms at all levels and promoting more rigorous and market-linked programs. To this end, King Mohammed directed the Higher Council for Education to carry out an evaluation of the achievements of the National Charter for Education and Training over the past ten years to provide baseline data for educational reform.

This step of looking back to move forward is how the king has launched all of the country’s major reforms. In closing his speech, he called for “a broad-based, constructive debate on all the major issues of concern to the nation, in order to achieve the tangible results Moroccans are looking forward to,” reaffirming his model of consensus and consultation as the basis of reform.

So the speech squarely places education and human development at a top priority on the king’s domestic agenda, and it doesn’t appear that he’ll wait another year for effective results.