Education unions accused Minister of Education Chakib Benmoussa, of unilaterally reversing several agreements they concluded with the Ministry regarding the new fundamental system, during a session of oral questions at the Council of Advisors on Tuesday.
The unions also accused Benmoussa of undermining the collaborative approach, presenting him with a choice between opening new avenues for dialogue or facing the united front of teachers who reject the new system, which has faced widespread opposition from the educators.
These accusations come in the midst of an ongoing three-day nationwide strike, with protesters expressing their strong opposition to the Fundamental System.
Mohamed Maasid, the parliamentary advisor for the Moroccan Labor Union team, challenged Benmoussa by denying the signing of the four unions on the fundamental system project. He stated, “We did not sign the basic system; we signed the January 14 joint statement outlining the principles of the fundamental system.”
Maasid further explained, “within the unions, we believed in the virtue of dialogue until September 20, the date of unveiling the draft of the basic system. The collaborative approach was undermined, and the Minister proceeded to pass this system and take it for approval without consulting the participating unions or considering the observations we provided, covering material, categorical, and professional aspects.”
Maasid further said that before September 8, Benmoussa had agreed to provide the unions with a memorandum containing a set of observations on the basic system before its publication in the Official Gazette. However, “he did not follow through with this agreement.”
In his response to these accusations, Benmoussa said that the Ministry had not finalized and presented the new system to social partners until after considering all the suggestions and observations from the unions regarding the implementation of the January 14th agreement.
Benmoussa said that the ministry organized over twenty meetings with the five most representative educational unions before reaching the agreement on January 14, 2023. Four unions signed the agreement, while one union withdrew.
Benmoussa clarified that the contents of this agreement were presented to the public and all components of the education system, allowing a three-month window for each component to submit their proposals related to implementing the agreement.
The mounting tension between the unions and the ministry over the fundamental system affected not only the teachers but also the students.
The Moroccan Student Rights Association said in a statement that the ongoing strikes and disruptions in the public education system primarily affect students, while government officials and many Ministry employees remain at bay.
The association added that the tension has a negative impact on reform projects that receive substantial funding, rendering them unsuccessful unless they are provided with the means for success.