Education Hindrances in Remote Areas in Morocco: Case of Imam Ghazali High School in Tafrant
Moroccan schools, in particular remote ones, failed to integrate students in their environment economically, socially, and culturally (Strategic Vision 2015-2030). Schools in remote areas such as Tafrant are characterised by three catastrophic dilemmas; low achievement, dropouts besides to devilish and challenging rural areas. It is recognised through two past years that students in Tafrant schools get under the average grades most of whom drop out later. Educators as well as administrators were certain that low achievers would likely to face serious barriers that do not set out on a promising and successful educational journey during a period of six years; middle and high school. To tackle this issue, a case study as a methodology of the study was adopted. This phenomenon was stimulating to observe and interview some students over a period of eighteen months so that this critical question could be answered: Why are students low achievers in remote areas generally, and in Tafrant particularly? The study finds that learners face some barriers such as terrible infrastructure, distant schools, and uncomfortable means of transport.
Keywords: educational hindrances – rural areas – poverty.
أكدت الرؤية الاستراتيجية للإصلاح (2015 -2030) فشل المدرسة المغربية، وخاصة المتواجدة منها في المجال القروي، في دمج التلاميذ في بيئتهم اقتصاديا واجتماعيا وثقافيا ويعود هذا بالأساس الى تدني مستوى التحصيل العلمي في صفوف التلاميذ. ومن هذا المنطلق يهدف هذا البحث الى دراسة تدني التحصيل العلمي بالمجال القروي – تفرانت أنموذجا. وخلصت الدراسة إلى أن المدرسة المغربية في المناطق النائية تتسم بثلاث معضلات كارثية وهي تدني مستوى المتمدرسين والانقطاع المدرسي وصعوبة المجال القروي. هذه الأوضاع أثرت بشكل قوي خلال السنوات التي مضت على التحصيل العلمي بحيث حصل معظم تلاميذ هذه المنطقة على درجات متدنية مما تجعلهم يرسبون ثم ينقطعون عن التمدرس في وقت لاحق. ولاحظ اختصاصيو التربية والمدراء أن ذوي التحصيل المنخفض من المرجح أن يواجهوا حواجز صعبة لا تبشر برحلة تعليمية واعدة وناجحة خلال فترة ست سنوات؛ الإعدادي والثانوي التأهيلي. ومن أجل معالجة هذه المسألة، تم اعتماد دراسة حالة كمنهجية للدراسة؛ وكانت هذه الظاهرة تحفز على مراقبة بعض التلاميذ ومقابلتهم على مدى ثمانية عشر شهرا حتى يمكن الإجابة على السؤال التالي: لماذا التحصيل العلمي للتلاميذ منخفض في المناطق النائية عموما، وفي تفرانت على وجه الخصوص؟ وتوصلت الدراسة إلى أن المتعلمين يواجهون بعض الحواجز مثل البنية التحتية الهشة والمدارس البعيدة ووسائل النقل المهترءة.
Running a successful authentic development across Morocco requires decision makers to turn their attention to reform educational system. Decision makers, in Morocco, have emphasised in a considerable way on the value of citizens in their latest speeches. Let’s consider the king’s speech (2016) where citizens are deemed the milestone human capital of the country after many educational organisations (Strategic Vision 2015-2030) have reported on their official websites that Morocco is lagging behind with regards to education. Thus far, human being is regarded to be the basic of development at all fundamental fields by authorities. Due to this fact, the starting point could be bringing constructive changes over educational system which passes through difficult status.
Moroccan schools, in particular remote ones, failed to integrate students in their environment economically, socially, and culturally (Strategic Vision 2015-2030). They lack the means and the tools regardless of administrative and educational staff. It is generally accepted amongst educators that schools are not well equipped to meet the latest theories and approaches that insist on using technological tools such as lap-tops, data-shows, PowerPoint presentations, and white or smart boards, etc. the thing that makes teachers comply with the rule “chalk and talk”. Along with this fact, priority is given to urban areas at the expense of rural ones in terms of infrastructure, syllabus designing and comfortable means of transport. In short, it is the matter of running a failing educational system across the country that produces failure over the developmental domains, particularly in remote areas.
Schools in remote areas such as Tafrant are characterised by three catastrophic dilemmas; low achievement, dropouts besides to devilish and challenging rural areas. It is recognised through two past years that students in Tafrant schools get under the average grades most of whom drop out later. Educators as well as administrators were certain that low achievers would likely to face serious barriers that do not set out on a promising and successful educational journey during a period of six years; middle and high school. This fact was a stimulation to observe and interview some students over a period of eighteen months so that these critical questions could be answer: Why are students low achievers in remote areas generally, and in Tafrant particularly? What are the effects of low achievement?
2. Review of relevant literature:
An agreement between some authors shows that some countries submit a syllabus across the country without taking into consideration the differences between rural and urban areas. Aref, K. and Aref A. (2012. p, 2192) point out that one of the local barriers for education is “irrelevant rural educational program” that motivates neither students nor teachers to reach high attainment. In the same vein, John, D. (2014. P, 23) states that “rural areas face additional challenges to providing quality education” which is “essential for achieving positive outcomes”. In other words, teachers as well as students face obstacles to implement the syllabus content written to the large audience living in the urban areas. Taking into consideration the conditions of each area – either urban or rural – while designing syllabus is critical to successful educational system.
Distant schools and lack of means of transport contribute to increasing the estimated figure of failures and dropouts in remote areas. Some barriers as stated by K. Aref and A. Aref (2012. pp, 2192-2193) can be organisational such as long distance, poor roads, and inadequate shipping vehicles. These feeble infrastructures lead to impotent and not encouraging school attainments. John, D. (2014) suggests some solutions to the issue of transportation. He adduces that public transport can solve the dilemma of remote schools when he points out that the “provision of public transport links to education facilities is a related consideration which has the potential to relieve this barrier” (p, 23). Means of transportation, however, is not the only side that needs improvement to encourage students for schooling if poor roads are not fixed.
3. Data collection:
This article adopts a case study as a methodology of conducting this study. It means conducting an empirical investigation of a contemporary phenomenon within its natural context using multiple sources of evidence (Yin, 2003) such as interviews, observations, documents and/or reports but it is not statistical or survey as it is indicated by Merriam. Merriam (2001) points out that sometimes people utilise the term case study as a “catchall category for research that is not a survey, an observational study, or an experiment and is not statistical in nature” (Hancock and Dawson, 2006. p, 15). The case study also allows the researcher to explore the phenomenon in detailed and in-depth. The data gathered in this study is about middle and high school students coming from remote areas to keep on their studies.
Observation and group interview are used to collect data through a period of eighteen months in order to spot the exact hindrances of education in Moroccan’s remote areas, particularly Tafrant. The targeted population are middle and high school students living in remote areas who make a journey of at least thirty minutes to arrive to school/home each day; coming to school in the morning and departing to home in the evening.
Group interview, on the one hand, is selected because it “capitalizes on the sharing and creation of new ideas that sometimes would not occur if the participants were interviewed individually” (Hancock, D. R. & Algozzine, B., 2006. p, 39). Unlike interview which relies on people’s bias perception, “observations of the setting by a case study researcher may provide more objective information related to the research topic” (ibid). Therefore, mixing both means of data collection is of great importance to gather authentic data and have paramount outcomes and implications for this study.
4. Analysis and interpretation:
The majority of students attending these remote schools in Tafrant village get lower grades that reflect their feeble level not only in English but also in other main subjects. Due to this fact, only a few students who are able to keep on their higher education in universities since most of them fail to pass the national baccalaureate exam that makes the phenomenon of dropping out of school increases in rural areas. Due to these causes, I am curious about knowing the main hindrances of education in Tafrant; a remote area in the region of Taounate.
Teachers as well as administrators observe the fact that many students arrive too late to the classes in the morning that makes the start impaired. When asking students about this matter inside the class, the answer is always chocking at least for me due to the fact that the school journey is as long as one day. A student points out that “We live faraway, our school journey starts at dawn and ends at dusk”. In other words, students get out of their houses in the early morning and come back in the evening mostly at night. Another student adds that “I spend too much time in my way to the school, about one hour in the morning, where I feel overtired and cannot concentrate on the explanation of teachers during the first session”. In addition to distant school, others complain about the terrible local transportation. To clarify this idea, one of my students points out that he would like to share the hard conditions in which he studies. He states that:
“The school is very far from my home. A thing which means that every day I have to wake up early and walk miles on foot to wait for means of transport, which are in bad conditions. When in school, I have to stay there the whole day and eat food I brought with me in the morning. When I get home, I only think of washing my feet, having dinner and sleeping because of tiredness”.
Hours are elapsed each day because of distant schools and the absence of school buses although learners use local means of transport commuting them each day twice; in the early morning and late afternoon. The absence of school buses makes things worse in the milieu of Tafrant; therefore students use vans that are always crowded and do not comprise the minimum standards of comfort. A student says that “I walk for twenty minutes before taking a bus (van) that is not worth calling it a bus transporting students” because it “lacks chairs and calm” another one adds.
Besides to the terrible conditions, this type of transport is noisy because vans are always crammed with students of mixed levels from middle and high schools. Another student adds that “Every one of them (vans) has got between fifty and one hundred students to transport at once”. These justifications and others show that students in this remote area pass through difficult experiences with absence of school buses that requires from authorities to turn their attention to. Politicians promise to change the condition each governmental period, especially during the elections. They promise to bring school buses and equip schools besides to building a place where students can spend their free time and blow up their talents. However, they never keep their word like most governments in their first term of office, they promised the earth.
This issue pushed the administrative staff to think of the alternatives and solutions that may diminish the negative effects in the course of study however they could not solve that. As a consequence, the staff is obliged to allow late comers to get into classes after fifteen minutes without any sanctions. The educational supervisor (2017, pf) informs teachers not to deprive late comers when he points out “Just don’t send students out when late fifteen minutes in the morning”. In addition, the administrative staff brings forward the afternoon sessions by one hour so that students would not arrive late at night to their homes. These instantaneous decisions do not solve the tardiness phenomenon at all because they are not authentic solutions.
Commuting twice a day besides to terrible infrastructure have many passive effects on students’ educational outcomes. In these inapt conditions, students are unable to do their homework or revise for their study due to tiredness and tardiness. In the school as well, places where students can eat, revise, blow up their talents, hid from rain or hot temperature are not available. A student states that “We don’t find anywhere to hide from the rain” and the “spaces where a student can blow up his talents are completely absent”. In addition, he continues pointing out that “When it is raining, I suffer a lot since my house is not located near road where I find transportation; however, I ought to walk for a couple of minutes to arrive to bus station”. Summing up, toughness of education start in the morning with remote areas students who should walk quit a long distance before taking that overcrowded means of transport that produces lateness, weak concentration and tiredness. Education achievement, then, is affected by these factors; the outcomes are too low and do not reach the expected level.
Due to the fact of living too far, students have no way coming back home for lunch until late evening. Therefore, they spend the whole day in classes or out school walls. A student points out that “It is not fair not to have a well-equipped dormitory in rural areas like ours”; only few girls have the chance to stay in a dormitory but many others have not. A student reports his suffering when he says “I suffer a lot in Tafrant because I have nowhere to go to read for my lessons or spend my free time”. Another one fosters the idea that villages that lack infrastructure such as dormitory, restaurants, cafeterias, restrooms and libraries lead to unsatisfied outcomes, he argues that “if I want to do my assignment before I leave school, I do not find where, even the school library lacks chairs, tables and resources”. In short, learners in these schools experience difficulty while studying as they arrive to school at 8:00 a.m. and depart it at 5:00 p.m. Comfortable places where to relax, eat and do assignments are not available at all and spending out class time in school surroundings becomes the habit which has catastrophic effects on their achievements.
Out school buildings such as libraries, restaurants, restrooms, and cafeterias are momentous places where distant pupils can eat, do their assignments or read for their homework until the arrival of study time. Nobody can imagine a distant school without the minimum infrastructures that help achieve the objectives set by the government, especially when talking about a fifteen-year strategic vision.
5. Implications and recommendations:
Government is required to design a special syllabus that suits the needs of remote areas’ students and tackles their concerns to better integrate them in their environment. In addition, educators and administrators are called to raise students’ educational aspiration which plays a significant role in their on-going participation in school and further study, especially those who travel to attend classes. Moreover, providing good means of transport and good infrastructures are necessary for increasing students’ educational achievement and getting satisfied outcomes. In terms of tools, bringing reliable changes over infrastructure is one step to promote education in remote areas taking into consideration providing enough and not dreadful means of transport. In addition, fixing poor roads would likely to steer clear of arriving brain-dead to schools.
The factors mentioned above add up to poverty contribute to minimise sharply students’ attainments in remote rural areas. Since Tafrant is a wide mountainous region, residents rely on seasonal agricultural products including vegetables, fruits, and grains which are poorly sustaining families. Wisdom, M. (2013) clarifies that “Crop produce from subsistence farming cannot sustain the family the whole year” (p, 2105) and consequently a big estimated figure of students ranging from this region drop out of school at an early age. According to Maslow’s theory, “a hungry child cannot pay attention in class since his or her images will be dominated by food” (wisdom, M., 2013. p, 2105). Similarly, students’ endurances while moving from their homes to school and vice versa prevail their attention in class. This brings to light hindrances students experience as they pursue their middle and high school study.
Successful education system can drive better outcomes in society, economy, and health. Graduates who attain higher levels find it easy to take part in social, political and economic life. These three main elements have profound benefits for individuals as well as society that triggers development.
- Aref, K., Aref, A. (2012). The barriers of educational development in rural areas of Iran. Indian Journal of Science and Technology. 5(2).
- CSEFRS. (2015).Strategic Vision for reforming educational system 2015-2030. Retrieved from http://www.csefrs.ma/pdf/Vision_VF_Fr_%20Resume.pdf on April 17th, 2016.
- John, D. (2014). Access to Education for Rural Students. Victorian auditor-general’s report. Victorian government printer.
- Hancock, D. R. & Algozzine, B. (2006). Doing case study research: A Practical Guide for Beginning Researchers. New York: Teachers College Press.
- Merriam, S. B. (2001). Qualitative Research and Case Study Applications in Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Moroccan king’s speech commemorating the Monarch Day in July, 30th, 2016. Retrieved from : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZXH-IeS0HY on May 10th, 2017.
- Wisdom, M., (2013). Causes and Effects of Poverty on Academic Achievements of Rural Secondary School Students: Cause of Tshazi Secondary School in Insiza District. International journal of Asian Social science. 3(10). AESS publishing house.
- Yin, K. R., (2003). Case Study Research: Design and Methods. Third edition. Sage Publications. California.
 – Moroccan king’s speech commemorating the Monarch Day in July 30th, 2016.
 – Strategic Vision 2015-2030 points out to other additional weaknesses that education system in Morocco passes through.