Morocco

Mohammed Sassi
Said Bouderga
Ahmed Chaibi
National Center for Evaluation and Examinations
Mohamed Hammani
Teacher Supervisor, Ministry of National Education

Overview of Education System

Morocco’s 2011 constitution specifies that the state, public institutions, local authorities, and families should work toward facilitating citizens’ and, in particular, children’s equal access to education, vocational training, physical education, and art.1

A number of institutions, statutes, decrees, and circulars regulate education in Morocco. The Ministry of National Education and vocational training oversees all areas related to the provision of both public and private education. The ministry is run according to the National Charter for Education and Training, adopted in 1999 and which recommended decentralizing the delivery of education and increasing responsiveness to local needs and realities,2 as well as developing a strategic vision of education reform (2015–2030)3 that currently governs all educational measures and projects. Accordingly, regional Academies for Education and Training in each of the 12 newly established administrative regions of Morocco have been charged with implementing the educational policy adopted nationally and the strategic vision for education recently set forth by the Higher Council of Education, Training, and Scientific Research. In addition, regional directorates are charged with providing services for education in their respective territories and implementing directives set nationally or by the regional academies.

The implementation of the National Charter for Education and Training has resulted in renewing curricula, textbooks, assessment, and evaluation. The National Directorate of Curricula develops the core curriculum, establishes pedagogical standards, and adopts textbooks according to guidelines and specifications established by the ministry. These guidelines are used as a frame of reference for teacher education and the development of teaching materials.

The National Education Emergency Program was designed by the Moroccan government with the support of various development partners. The program spanned 2009–2012, and its purpose was to accelerate the implementation of reform according to what had been stipulated by the National Charter of Education and Training. The program supports the efforts of the Moroccan government to promote skills development and poverty reduction under the National Human Development Initiative, as well as helps the country make significant strides toward meeting some of its UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015.4

In 2015, the Higher Council of Education, Training, and Scientific Research initiated a nationwide collaboration, involving several educational institutions as well as representatives of the economic sector and civil society, to evaluate the outcomes of the Moroccan educational system and develop measures to address the problems and deficiencies identified. Among the measures receiving highest priority are those which emphasize the promotion of literacy and numeracy in the four early primary education grades.

Morocco’s education system is divided into preprimary, primary, and secondary education. The National Charter of Education and Training mandates that preprimary education be available to all children between ages 4 to 6. Preprimary education in Morocco is provided by two types of schools: kindergartens and Quranic schools. Kindergartens, which generally are run by the private sector, provide education primarily in cities and towns. Quranic schools prepare children for primary education by focusing on basic literacy and numeracy skills and have always been at the forefront in the battle against illiteracy, particularly in remote areas of the country.5 Preprimary teachers develop their own curriculum according to a set of principles established by the Ministry of Education that take into account students’ physical and cognitive development, needs, interests, and abilities.6 Attempts have been made within the framework of the National Education Emergency Program to enable primary schools to host preprimary classes with the intention that this model could be expanded in the future.

Children generally attend primary school from ages 6 to 12. Over the last 10 years, Morocco’s gross enrollment rates in primary education have been rising consistently, and dropout rates have been falling. According to the National Education Emergency Support Program, many school age children in impoverished families stay out of school due to the high cost of schooling (e.g., expenses related to textbooks, school materials, and other incidentals), and are bound to work to supplement the family income.7 To combat educational exclusion, Morocco’s government launched Tayssir, a conditional cash transfer program designed to encourage higher primary school enrollment. At the end of primary school, students must fulfill school leaving qualification requirements in order to obtain a primary school certificate and be eligible for admission to lower secondary schools.

Like primary school (Grades 1 to 6), lower secondary school in Morocco is compulsory and lasts three years (Grades 7 to 9) for students ages 13 to 15.8

Upper secondary school also lasts three years. During the first year, all students follow a common core curriculum in the arts, science, technology, or vocational training. After the first year, students are streamed into one of three tracks: the general and technical track, leading to a Moroccan baccalaureatea; the technology track, leading to general qualifications in technology; or one of the newly implemented options leading to a vocational Moroccan baccalaureate. Within the general track and the new vocational baccalaureate, first year students study the arts, science, technology, mathematics, or Islamic disciplines. Second year students study Earth and life sciences, physics, agricultural science, technical studies, or one of two mathematics tracks (Track A corresponds with Earth and life sciences, and Track B with engineering sciences).

Languages of Instruction

According to the 2011 constitution, Arabic and Amazigh are the two official languages of the Kingdom of Morocco. Arabic is the medium of instruction for mathematics and science at the fourth and eighth grades. The teaching of Amazigh has been endorsed, and teaching materials and teacher education programs have been designed in Amazigh since the creation of the Royal Institute for the Amazigh Culture (IRCAM) in 2001. The inclusion of Amazigh in the school curriculum was a remarkable event in the Moroccan education system. Still, much work remains to be done to generalize the teaching of Amazigh.

The 2011 constitution supports learning foreign languages and stipulates that the most widely used foreign languages shall be taught as means of communication, integration, and interaction with other societies in the spirit of openness to other cultures and civilizations.9 French, which is taught in kindergarten and the first and second grades of public primary schools, often is used as the language of government, diplomacy, technology, and economics in Morocco. French also is the medium of instruction for some technical disciplines in upper secondary schools, as well as for higher education institutes and engineering schools. English is gaining ground as a popular foreign language and is used as the medium of instruction in a small number of higher education institutes and engineering schools. Spanish, Italian, and German are taught as foreign languages beginning in the ninth grade.

  • a The Moroccan baccalaureate curriculum may be translated into foreign languages of instruction (e.g., French, English, or, in the near future, Spanish) in which case it is referred to as the international Moroccan baccalaureate.