Teachers across the country have been voicing their strong opposition to what they call a regressive reform – the Fundamental System. This contentious system, initiated as a means of reforming the education sector, has now triggered a wave of protests and strikes, as teachers and their unions unite against the Ministry of National Education.
On January 14, 2023, after more than a year of negotiations and social dialogues, the Ministry of National Education, along with four major education unions, signed a protocol of agreement called the January 14 agreement.
This agreement outlined the general principles of the new Fundamental System for education sector employees without definitive and conclusive outcomes. The signatory unions included the National Union of Education (UMT), the National Education Union (CDT), the Free Union of Education (UGTM), and the National Education Union (FDT).
However, notably, one of the most representative unions, the National Teaching Federation (FNE), did not sign this protocol.
During one session, the Government Council approved Decree No. 2.23.819 on September 27, 2023, which laid out the fundamental system for employees in the sector of national education.
This decree was officially published on October 9, 2023.
The Unified Fundamental System is one of the twelve commitments in the government’s roadmap to reform the Moroccan education system, and it represents a substantial financial commitment.
The government has pledged an additional six billion dirhams by 2026 to implement the agreed-upon provisions and commitments.
Under this new system, all distinctions between the staff of regional academies for education and training, whether in terms of rights, privileges, or designations, will be abolished. This change concerns primarily contracted teachers whose designation is now similar to other teachers.
The Ministry said that this system will ensure equal rights, privileges, duties, and rules for all employees in the education sector.
Unrest and Dissatisfaction
Tensions flared once the government approved the Fundamental System. The unions that initially signed the protocol subsequently backtracked, asserting that they had only agreed to the principles outlined in the protocol, not the Fundamental System itself.
Teachers have expressed deep grievances regarding the handling of the reform, arguing that it imposes additional responsibilities without corresponding financial compensation.
They are particularly critical of Article 15, which mandates teachers to take on extra tasks unrelated to their core teaching duties, such as organizing exams and participating in school activities.
The promotion system reform has left many teachers disappointed, as it still requires them to spend lengthy periods in their current echelons .
The uncertainty of working hours and perceived non-adherence to Public Service Law criteria in the evaluation system have further fueled their dissatisfaction.
Nevertheless, there have been some notable positive developments within the fundamental system. This includes the partial integration of contracted teachers, allowing them to partake in professional competence exams and qualify for positions as inspectors.
Similar opportunities also extended to middle and high school educators, who are now eligible to apply for roles as inspectors.
Rising Protests and Demands
Teachers have resorted to protests and strikes to oppose the Fundamental System. Their 3-day-national strike marks a significant escalation of their discontent, following previous street protests against what they perceive as an unfair education reform.
Among the contentious articles of the Fundamental System that teachers are rallying against are:
– Article 15: Mandating additional obligatory tasks without compensation.
– Article 42: candidates whose age does not exceed 30 years are allowed to participate in the exams, whereas the age limit was previously set at 45.
– Article 67: Granting the Ministry the right to add tasks without consultation.
– Article 68: Allowing the Ministry to determine working hours without stipulating fixed working hours.
– Article 69: Requiring teachers to participate in training during interim holidays.
– Article 70: Reducing the end of the school year holiday to 22 days.
– Article 52: Prioritizing the assessment of obligatory tasks over teacher performance.
When it comes to the assessment system, teachers argue that the evaluation process focuses too heavily on their impact on student outcomes, which they find flawed. They believe that the teacher’s influence is just one of several factors affecting student progress.
Furthermore, teachers lament the disparity in compensation between the inspection committee and teachers, emphasizing the Fundamental System’s failure to meet even the minimum requirement of a salary increase.
In this context, it’s important to note that teachers will be awarded only a certificate for the extra responsibilities they undertake, without any corresponding financial compensation.
Meanwhile, other educational staff members will receivemonthly appropriate compensations for their additional duties. For instance, inspectors are granted MAD1969, primary school directors receive MAD 1584, and middle/high school directors receive MAD 1761, in stark contrast to teachers who do not receive any additional compensation.
Education support staff, tasked with providing social and psychological follow-up to students, have had their working hours extended to 38 hours, aligning with administrative working hours, even though they receive a teacher’s salary.
The unions have been vocal in their condemnation of the fundamental system, highlighting that its negative alterations have outweighed its positive reforms. They have criticized the government for swiftly and unilaterally approving it in a single session, without a thorough discussions, and for promptly publishing it in the official gazette within a month of its approval.