Morocco: Trade unions focus on raising the status of teachers and reforming the education system

published 8 June 2023 updated 16 June 2023

The SNE-CDT (Syndicat National de l’Enseignement-Confédération Démocratique du Travail) has been negotiating for several years with the government to improve the living and working conditions of Moroccan education staff, and to secure a comprehensive reform of the country’s education system, to put an end to the ongoing inequalities in the sector.

Social dialogue on teachers’ employment status and the profession

For Younes Firachine, the young and recently-elected General Secretary of the SNE-CDT, “in Morocco, since the election of the new government in 2021, we have entered a new phase of serious and responsible social dialogue. The government and education unions are in fact convinced that public education in Morocco is in need of far-reaching reform, given the disappointing results obtained in national and international assessments.”

For the SNE-CDT, “The key approach to reforming the Moroccan education system is to improve the material, social and professional conditions of teachers in all categories.”

The union also considers it impossible to implement a reform without mobilising key stakeholders, such as teachers, directors and other education professionals, especially in view of the “acute tension” in the sector, caused by the deterioration in teachers’ social situation and employment status, as well as the build-up of demands.

The union leader also stressed the problem linked with the hiring of contract teachers. This form of employment was launched in 2016 and the number of contractual employees is now 120,000, out of a total of 300,000 employees in the sector.

To address this, a joint technical committee was set up with the unions and the Ministry of National Education and meetings were held over a period of 9 months, during which the committee examined international experiences in organising the profession and the basic framework for teachers in those countries.

“We then drew up a diagnosis of the main imbalances in the current system and reached an agreement, signed on 14 January 2023, which outlines the general principles of the new basic framework and also addresses various job category issues,” Firachine noted.

This new basic framework, the articles of which are currently being drafted, will enter into force in September 2023. It maintains all previously secured rights and gains and opens up new prospects for improving the social and professional conditions of teachers, such as creating a grade for the promotion of more than 200,000 teachers, increasing allowances, offering incentives to teachers, creating jobs and upgrading administrative and technical assistants.

Firachine emphasised that “one of the most important elements of this agreement is the unification of all teachers into a single basic regime, within the framework of the civil service, guaranteeing everyone the same rights and protections, from employment to retirement. Negotiations are currently underway to draft the provisions of the new basic regime, which we see as a first step towards restoring the value placed on teachers and public education.”

Comprehensive reform of the education system

Firachine added that, alongside the dialogue on the profession and teacher’s working conditions, the SNE-CDT is engaged in a debate on the overall reform of the education system, “as we consider this to be a central part of our mission”.

He expressed his regret that “education in Morocco is marked by major disparities in terms of quality, curriculum and teaching methods, infrastructure and equipment, which leads to many forms of inequality at social and community level. These inequalities in education represent a major challenge to be overcome and, despite the efforts made to improve the education system, there is still a long way to go.”

“What we have done, and what we are doing, has only been possible thanks to the efforts made to strengthen our organisation following the SNE’s national congress, during which the national bureau of the union was re-elected with 66% of new members, women’s representation was increased by 100%, and young people were also given greater representation,” he added.

The SNE-CDT has also formed an alliance with the other most representative unions in the sector with a view to coordinating positions and taking a common stance in negotiations.

It has also worked on its communication strategy to involve a wide range of teachers, holding over 50 face-to-face meetings with them in towns and cities across Morocco.

Lastly, Firachine explained that the union’s work strategy is based on four main pillars:

  1. Developing union leadership skills and strengthening the vision, the force of education policy proposals and the employees’ demands in the sector.
  2. Establishing and strengthening the organisation, increasing union membership and encouraging young people and women to take an active part in union life.
  3. The promotion of internal and external media and communication practices, as well as the organised use of best practice on social media, media and communication networks.
  4. The development of solidarity links and strategic networks with civil society associations and education unions at national and international level.