Education is one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that developing countries are most particularly concerned with. This is the case of Morocco, a country which has gone lately through a large reform of its educational system in the framework of its “emergency program.” This fruitful program covers the period of 2009-2012 and has revealed very good results so far concerning the improvement of the quality of education and decreasing the country’s illiteracy rate, especially in rural areas. According to the Moroccan minister of Education, Mr. Ahmed Akhchichine, the emergency program has helped to increase the number of students enrolled by 17%, while the number of school dropouts decreased from 400,000 to 300,000 since the implementation of the plan.
I recently read in the World Bank’s website dedicated to MDGs that “offering innovative incentives, like cash for attendance, to keep kids in school” is among the education strategies of the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries. Well, I think that Morocco is one of those developing countries which adopted such a strategy in the hope of attracting more students and making Education affordable for everybody. In this context, One Million School Bags is the title of a royal initiative launched at the start of the new school season and aiming to offer students school supplies for free in order to fight dropout from school.
But this isn’t it! Many students could benefit from other forms of support to encourage them to keep going to school, such as bicycles, school uniforms, scholarships, access to school restaurants and housing. Moreover, some parents of enrolled students could also benefit from a monthly financial support provided through postal orders to fight the phenomenon of school dropouts.
Of course, reforms, incentives, financial support and any other governmental efforts to improve education cannot be fruitful or have sustainable results without the involvement of the whole Moroccan society and awareness of the necessity to educate children and to invest in future generations. In other words, there should be a “mentality” reform along with education reform for people to understand, in depth, that education is not an “option” but a MUST!
Photo: © Dana Smillie / World Bank