Privatization of education in Morocco breaches human rights: new report
(Geneva) – ‘Increased privatization of schools in Morocco is benefiting the elite and maintaining a mediocre public education system for the rest of the population. Increasing privatization in education in Morocco without strong government regulation is discriminatory, likely to exacerbate inequality, and if not properly dealt with in an expeditious manner would rise to a violation of Morocco’s obligations under international human rights law’, a leading coalition of non-governmental organisations said today.
The coalition, which has been coordinated by the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, has recently submitted a major report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. The UN body of child rights experts will met in Geneva on 3 February 2014 to consider Morocco’s human rights record.
‘Morocco is at risk of developing a two-speed education system which privileges fee-paying private education at the expense of quality and accessible education for the least advantaged and children in rural areas,’ said Sylvain Aubry, the report researcher for the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Thanks to the active support of private education providers by the Moroccan State, including through policy regulations and tax incentives, enrollments in private education in Morocco have risen sharply in the last decade. Between 1995 and 2010 private enrollments across all levels of the Moroccan education system more than doubled and at the primary level, enrollments more than tripled from 4% in 1999 to 13% in 2012.
Yet, 80% of these private schools in Morocco are fee-paying, for-profit schools in the urban Kenitra – Casablanca area. These schools target wealthy urban households, thus not improving access for the majority of the population who do not have the financial means to pay for schooling.
Recent data released by the UNESCO shows that in 2011 the poorest rural children were 2.7 times less likely to learn basics in reading than the richest children in urban areas, a gap which has increased by 26% since 2006.
According to the report, the increasing privatization of education in Morocco is accompanied by a widening gap in access to quality education and inequalities between the most advantaged and the most disadvantages families.
‘Despite the obligation under international law to take measures to increase access to quality education for all without discrimination, Morocco is taking measures which in fact increase inequalities’ said Bret Thiele, the Co-Executive Director of the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
‘We are gravely concerned that the privatization of education in Morocco is exacerbating inequalities in education for disadvantaged children by creating a system that privileges the haves over the have-nots,’ Mr Thiele said.
The growing trend of inequalities and the continuous government support of private education has occurred despite previous warnings and recommendations by UN bodies and experts. In 2006, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights raised concerns that Morocco ‘has a two-speed education system with a striking difference in level between public and private education which denies equal opportunities to low-income sectors of society’. The former UN Education Expert, Mr Vernor Muñoz Villalobos, similarly noted in 2006 after a visit to the country, ‘an apparently excessive promotion by the authorities of private education’.
The UN Committee’s review of Morocco comes at a critical time, with the nation’s King referring to the challenges in ensuring quality education for all due to the high fees charged by private schools in a recent speech to the nation from August 2013.
In addition, the current UN Right to Education expert, Mr Singh, warned in a recent report that ‘in many parts of the world inequalities in opportunities for education will be exacerbated by the growth of unregulated private providers of education, with wealth or economic status becoming the most important criterion to access a quality education’.
‘This is a very topical issue in Morocco right now, with changes in the education sector occurring at a fast pace. We urge the Government to look closely at the impacts on equality because their policy decisions now will have profound and long-lasting impacts on the education of Moroccan children and the future of our nation,’ said Mr Ahmed Sehouate, the president of the Coalition Marocaine pour l’Éducation pour Tous (the Moroccan Coalition on Education for All).
‘We call on the UN Child Rights Committee to contribute to efforts for human rights compliant reform by reinforcing to Morocco its primary obligation to allocate the maximum available resources towards ensuring that every child has access to free quality education’ Mr Thiele said.
‘The position of the Committee will be crucial for the future of Morocco, but also to highlight the risks that unregulated private education creates for the realisation of the right to education and to outline the applicable standards for the growing number of developing countries which are taking a similar path’ said Mr Aubry,
A visual summary of the key issues in the report is available here http://goo.gl/MTGua8
A copy of the report submitted to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child is available here http://goo.gl/1Y8TIk and the recommendations can be found here http://goo.gl/tlZPtz (in English).
The last report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education is available here: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/68/294
- Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Bret Thiele on +1 218 733 1370 and Sylvain Aubry on +33 7 81 70 81 96
- Coalition Marocaine pour l’Éducation pour Tous: Ahmed Sehouate (Arabic and French) on +216 62 10 05 85
The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) is an international non-governmental human rights organization which seeks to advance the realization of economic, social and cultural rights throughout the world, tackling the endemic problem of global poverty through a human rights lens.
The Coalition Marocaine pour l’Éducation pour Tous (the Moroccon Coalition on Education for All, CMET) is a Moroccan NGO created in 2010. It is a network of more than 50 Moroccan organisations interested in the valorisation of public education in Morocco.