24. The Special Rapporteur acknowledges the Kingdom of Morocco’s strong political commitment and its efforts to promote the right to education for its citizens and notes that the education reform is one of the Government’s principal concerns. The work of the National Education Council, where students are also represented, clearly testifies to Morocco’s innovative drive.
25. In this section the Special Rapporteur analyses some of Morocco’s achievements as well as the obstacles to be overcome in order to realize the right to education. His analysis is based on specific aspects of the right to education, namely availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability.
26. One of the chief obligations of any State party in realizing the right to education is to ensure that educational institutions and programmes are available in sufficient quantity within its jurisdiction and that they are equipped with sanitation facilities for both sexes, drinking water, trained teachers receiving domestically competitive salaries, and teaching materials and other facilities.18
1. Schools, infrastructure and minimum services
27. In 2006/07 Morocco opened 44 new primary schools, 177 school units, mostly in rural areas, and 49 additional canteens, making a total of 6,857 primary schools, 13,237 school units in rural areas (satellite schools), 1,298 junior high schools and 663 high schools. Morocco also has 599 school canteens in urban areas and 555 in rural areas, catering for 1,023,000 students in all, most of them in rural areas. Despite efforts to provide the necessary infrastructure, especially in rural areas, representatives of both Government and civil society interviewed by the Special Rapporteur said it was important to continue investing in the construction of primary, junior high and high schools in rural areas and to build more canteens and boarding facilities. He was also informed that urgent efforts were needed to provide school transport in rural areas, which would require closer cooperation and coordination between schools and local authorities.
28. Providing the population with basic services such as drinking water, electricity and sanitation is another major challenge, one that impacts greatly on the realization of the right to education and which Morocco must address, in particular in rural areas. The lack of infrastructure is an impediment to children’s school enrolment because it means either that they are expected to work harder on the family farm or in domestic chores or collecting water and wood, or that there is no drinking water or toilets in schools and canteens.
29. There are 220,996 teachers in the public sector, 42 per cent of them in rural areas. The Government considers teachers’ pay to be adequate, although some teachers’ union representatives complain that travel allowances and the pay differentials between the levels of education are insufficient.
30. Another major obligation of States parties in terms of realizing the right to education is to make education accessible to all, particularly the most disadvantaged groups, without discrimination. Education should be physically and financially accessible and primary education should be free of charge.19
31. In this context the Special Rapporteur notes with great satisfaction the legislation, political will and efforts made by the State party to make the right to education a reality for all Moroccans, men and women, children and adults. The Special Rapporteur also commends the State party’s political will to achieve universal primary and secondary education, its efforts to gradually universalize post compulsory education (high school) and preschool, and its implementation of literacy and non formal education programmes. The Special Rapporteur notes with satisfaction that basic State education is free in Morocco, although according to some local associations the cost of education per child, which includes fees, books and school supplies, is between 300 and 600 dirhams (US$ 33 to US$ 55), which may hinder children’s access to education in economically vulnerable and poor families.
32. The Special Rapporteur identified a number of problems to be addressed as a matter of urgency if education is to become a reality for all: the dropout and illiteracy rates and the fact that certain groups such as disabled children, street children and working children are excluded from education.
1. Universalization of education in order to address
exclusion and dropping out
33. The Charter sets deadlines and concrete medium and long term targets for some of the fundamental objectives of educational reform, but several of these have had to be reviewed and their implementation delayed.
34. The Charter envisaged 90 per cent of children completing the five years of primary schooling and moving on to secondary education by 2005 and 80 per cent completing junior high school by 2008.20 35. The school starting age has been raised to 6 but preschool education is still optional and enrolment rates have not been as predicted (60.4 per cent in 2006/07). Some 92 per cent of 6 year olds enrolled in the first year, while the primary school (6 11) enrolment rate is 93 per cent and the junior high school rate is 89 per cent. This is remarkable progress from 1990/91, when the primary school enrolment rates stood at 52.4 per cent. Morocco has also made considerable strides in girls’ access to education. In 2006/07 girls accounted for 42 per cent of primary school pupils, 44 per cent of junior high pupils and 47 per cent of non compulsory secondary school (high school) students.21 Efforts are still needed to achieve parity in access to education and genuine equality.
36. To properly appreciate this progress, it must be put in context. Firstly, according to the most conservative estimates, 7 per cent of children, or about 1.5 million girls and boys, have no access to education. Moreover, despite relatively high enrolment in both primary and secondary education, it is nevertheless a fact that 40 per cent of 6 to 11 year olds enrolled in primary school drop out before the end of the fifth year. In urban areas, 50 per cent of girls and boys aged 12 to 15, and in rural areas, 89 per cent, dropped out before completing compulsory secondary school. It is thus also important to pay attention to the differences between rural and urban areas. Rural children, i.e. 49.8 per cent of all children,22 make up 52 per cent of primary pupils (the Special Rapporteur cannot say what percentage of these children complete the first five years of school), 21 per cent of junior high school enrolments and 8 per cent of those in post compulsory secondary education.