Since 2018, Morocco has been implementing a large program to broaden access to quality preschool education. In just a few years, the country significantly increased the number of children in pre-school, with a pre-school enrolment rate rising from 49.5 percent in 2018 to 71.3 percent in 2020. In addition, the share of so-called "irregular" preschools—which are neither public, private, nor partnerships with other entities—decreased by more than 30 percent in favor of an increase in the share of private and public preschool institutions. From 2018 to 2021, 13,594 new preschool classrooms were created nationwide.
As part of this effort, the Ministry of National Education, Preschool, and Sports’ preschool education unit, with the support of its partners, established a normative reference framework to guarantee the quality of preschool education services regardless of the operator. The framework presents guidelines for preschools and allows flexibility related to diversity. In particular, it recommends important educational principles such as learning through playing, offers a programming proposal, and recommends equipment preschools need to purchase. It also sets out the target skills that children must acquire at the end of the preschool cycle.
This approach helps avoid the pitfalls Morocco encountered in the 2000s, when access to primary education expanded rapidly but quality dropped, contributing to the learning crisis the country is experiencing today.
International evidence confirms that scaling up early childhood education rapidly, “without paying enough attention to quality, shows that benefits are not achieved if curricula are not of adequate quality," according to Shafiq, Devercelli, and Valerio’s report on long term benefits from early childhood education in low- and middle-income countries.
Quality preschool is one of the best investments to pave the way for a virtuous cycle of lifelong learning, as well as improved employment and, ultimately, human capital development. Investing in quality assurance systems can help strengthen children's skills and motivation to learn, as well as promote sensorial, socio-cognitive, and emotional skills.
We believe that the quality assurance system should have at least four key components:
- Clearly defined quality standards for pre-school education;
- Provision of reliable data collection instruments and protocols;
- An information system to monitor quality in all institutions; and
- Effective mechanisms to provide appropriate support to pre-school institutions.
Monitoring mechanisms and protocols
The Ministry of National Education, Preschool, and Sports’ framework aims to standardize the quality of preschool education to guarantee fair and quality access for all. However, the main challenge lies in monitoring the implementation of this framework and standards.
How can we proceed? First, it is important to ensure that quality standards are periodically reviewed so that they follow the evolution of the curriculum, integrate research outcomes in the early childhood sector and are adapted to the national context.
Next, it is essential that these standards be owned by relevant actors, namely educators and pedagogical supervisors. To this end, initial and in-service training must be planned and regularly improved. Involving parents and making them aware of the principles of quality preschool education can also help with quality monitoring.
Once these prerequisites are met, we propose a three-level measurement system through the design of dedicated quality tools:
- Measurement of the quality of the physical environment;
- Observation of children's achievements and skills;
- Measurement of the quality of educational practices in the classroom.
It is necessary to set up tools that minimize the subjectivity of the evaluator. Data collection must be done at different level (school, local and regional levels) through a centralized system that allows a holistic view of the quality of education. At the local and provincial level, this system should allow administrators to assess and implement corrective plans throughout the school year. As such, it is important to plan and provide provincial and local entities with the necessary budgets for this assessment system and its implementation.
In parallel with the design of quality measurement tools, it is necessary to define the implementation strategy that determines the evaluation processes and procedures. This allows administrators to anticipate the required human resources, the technical and financial means, as well as the mechanisms for data reporting and processing.
Quality staff is the key to quality preschool education. Training and the regular supervision of human resources will also help drive quality preschool education.
All of these components are key to the success of standardization in the short, medium and long term. However, it is also worth noting the importance of a multi-stakeholder coordination in order to sustain achievements and progress.
For more information, visit the Ministry of National Education website, the INDH website, the 2018-2027 Generalization Program, and the report by Shafiq, M.N., Devercelli, A. and Valerio on the long-term benefits of early childhood education in low- and middle-income countries.
Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Do you have any comments on the suggested approach? What are your experiences in the field?
Join the Conversation