On August 20, 2013, His Majesty King Mohammed VI delivered a groundbreaking speech on the dire straits of the Moroccan public education system. After painting a bleak picture of the current situation, he called for action. He urged education experts and policy makers to come together to propose solutions to the crisis and entreated the government to speed up the passing of legislation on the High Council for Education, Training and Scientific Research, a body envisaged by the constitution.
Numerous international reports (UNESCO, World Bank, UNDP) have highlighted serious deficiencies in Moroccan public education. The objectives of the National Education and Training Charter have remained unachieved, curricula are not attuned to the job market and some indicators have taken a downward turn.
A recent World Bank report highlighted Morocco’s significant intangible assets, in particular its human resources and its youth. Yet, graduate unemployment has reached alarming rates and is symptomatic of our educational crisis. The new Morocco we all aspire to needs well trained and qualified citizens to reach the development goals it has set for itself. Today more than ever we are convinced that as Victor Hugo said, « Each child educated is another man gained.”
As a bastion of knowledge and culture, universities have the social responsibility to train the nation’s elite and the citizen of the future. However, it is painfully clear that despite a series of programs launched by the government since 1999-the National Charter for Education and Training, the framework law on higher education (Law 01-00) and the 2009-2012 Emergency Plan- Moroccan universities have failed to reach excellence. To meet society’s education expectations and to remedy a situation that is impeding our development, we have high hopes that the new broadened mandate of the High Council for Education, Training and Scientific Research and the Supervisory Ministry’s 2013-2016 Action Plan will bring much needed improvements.
To meet the educational challenge, Morocco must adjust and align itself to global academic trends. Today, the competitive educational environment is pushing universities to merge and form mega-universities that are more accomplished and internationally visible than as a single entity.
Merging universities is not risk free and should be contemplated only if it is in the best interest of the universities being merged. With this in mind, parliament voted in May 2014 a bill on the merger of Mohammed V-Agdal University and Mohammed V-Souissi University effective September 1, 2014. The same bill proposed the merger of Hassan II University of Casablanca and Hassan II University of Mohammedia-Casablanca. In light of past merger experiences across the world, we rightfully ask ourselves what we stand to gain both nationally and internationally. This merger should theoretically expand the university’s academic portfolio and assets as well as enhance its performance, attractiveness and by extension international visibility.
The new Mohammed V University of Rabat will be a mega-university with over 65 000 students and 19 academic institutions, the most of any Moroccan university. Current figures show that this new university will be the national frontrunner in terms of scientific output. Managing such a large univeristy won’t be without challenges and is an opportunity to rethink not only the governance of Moroccan universities but also the content of the academic programs they offer.
This strategic plan, an assessment of Mohammed V University on the eve of its rebirth, proposes a realistic and pragmatic path for its development towards becoming a modern public university-a civic, high-performing and influential university that collaborates with the community, and has a global vision and strategy that in due course will make it a major player on the international scence. This plan is submitted in response to the call for candidacy for the position of President of Mohammed V University of Rabat. It is the fruit of a long experience at Mohammed V-Agdal University-since 1993 as a professor and head of a research unit, from 2006-2011 as Vice Dean for Academics and Pedagogy at the Faculty of Science and since 2011 Dean of the Faculty of Science.
This plan builds also on my experience gained by serving on several bodies and committees such as the University Council’s Education Committee (as president), the Education Committee of the League of University Presidents, the Ministry Committee for Degree Equivalency, the Ministry Committee for the Amendment of Law 01-00, the network of Faculty of Science Deans, the Moroccan League of Science Deans, CIRIUSEF etc. This rich background in teaching, research and university governance has allowed me to gain considerable expertise in these areas.
Being the fruit of a long and solid in-house experience, this project, will continue a dynamic reform and structuring strategy started at the Faculty of Science which has over one third of the UM5A student body and nearly half of its faculty. This strategy led the Faculty of Science to excel nationwide and serve as a pilot institution. Its scientific output is the largest in the nation and several of its initiatives have been copied by other institutions. We will continue on this path of excellence but this time at a university level. We will strive to produce graduates that contribute to the development of society thereby reaffirming the merged university’s position as the crown jewel of Moroccan higher education.
Any merger is a complex operation with human, financial and operational challenges. Convinced of the need and soundness of the merger, we will pursue this strategy with unwavering commitment. Our goal is to build a global, entrepreneurial, and prestigious university that will drive regional and national development and that will leave a lasting mark on society.
Pr. Saaid Amzazi
President of Mohammed V University in Rabat