Education in Morocco
There is a considerable gender difference. A 2009 estimate shows that 68.9 percent of the male population and 43.9 percent of the female population over 15 is literate, but the level of girls’ education is rising. The number of young women (aged 15 to 24 years) who have basic literacy rose from 70 percent (1997-2001 average) to 72 percent (2002-2006 average). For young men the figures were 86 percent and 87 percent, respectively (World Bank data). Education in Morocco is compulsory from 6 to 15 years of age, but many children, particularly in rural areas and particularly girls, do not attend school.
The Moroccan education system consists of four levels:
Pre-school (4-6 years);
Primary (6-12 years), divided into the first and second cycles (lasting two and four years, respectively). Attendance rates have climbed from 45 percent in 1999 to 55 percent in 2011 (57 percent and 64 percent, respectively, for boys and 32 percent and 45 percent for girls).
Secondary, divided into École collégiale (3 years), leading to a certificate of college education (brevet d’enseignement collégial (BEC) and Secondaire qualifiant (three years), leading in some cases to a baccalauréat d’enseignement général (BEG), which gives access to higher education. In 2003, the rate of enrolment in secondary education was 35 percent (37 percent for boys and 27 percent for girls. Fewer than 60 percent of pupils complete this phase.
Higher education: In 2008-2009 there were 320 institutions of higher education (142 public and 178 private), teaching a total of 339,044 students, of whom 9 percent were in the private sector. Of these, women made up 47 percent of students and 39 percent of graduates. The institutions employed 12,346 lecturers and include fifteen (free) public universities, offering classes in French and Arabic. In these universities there is a six-semester bachelor’s degree, followed by a four-semester master’s cycle and a doctoral cycle of three years. The fee-paying English-speaking al-Akhawayn University, in Ifrane, has a special status, with a system of four-year bachelor courses plus master’s degrees. Other tertiary institutions include écoles d’ingénieur, institutes of vocational training, and higher technology colleges (écoles supérieures de technologie). Side by side with this system administered by the Ministry of National Education are the autonomous grandes écoles, designed to train future executives; these schools are the responsibility of the relevant ministries.
The most prestigious university in the public sector is Mohammed V University in Rabat, founded in 1957 and inaugurated in 1959. In 2008, there were 12,950 students at bachelor’s-degree or technology-diploma level, 775 at masters level, and 3,886 registered in doctoral programmes. The university employed 989 full-time staff and 332 temporary staff. Al-Karaouine University in Fes was founded in CE 859 as a teaching centre in the most important mosque in the city and claims to be the oldest university in the world. It has been a state university since 1963.
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