Recent assessments from TIMSS-2019 and PIRLS-2021 highlight Morocco’s poor performance in international tests and the significant number of students considered to be “low performers” and at risk.
These proportions exceed 50% among schoolchildren in reading, mathematics and science, and reach nearly 70% among high school students in science, as well as three quarters in reading comprehension and mathematics, according to the results of PISA-2018.
In a recent policy document titled “ TaRL Morocco: promising beginnings for innovative tutoring“, economists from the Policy Center for the New South (PCNS), Aomar Ibourk, Karim El Aynaoui and Tyaen Ghazi, examined the challenges facing the Moroccan education system in terms of the quality of learning.
In a Policy Paper, the experts underline the socio-economic and territorial disparities generated by this phenomenon. For example, according to PISA-2018, 86% of students in rural areas are considered “ underperforming in reading, compared to 66% in urban areas.
Significant differences are also observed between the public and private sectors, with the public sector having significantly higher percentages of students underperforming“. Additionally, there is a 10 percentage point gap in favor of girls over boys. The socio-economic gaps are also remarkable, with a percentage of “ underperforming » by around 55% among students in the wealthiest quartile, compared to 87% among students in the poorest quartile.
Faced with these challenges, the Ministry of National Education, Preschool and Sports announced a reform based on two main pillars: the remediation of learning gaps and an in-depth reform of the education system.
Thus, the economists propose to contribute, through their Policy Paper, to maximizing the benefits of this reform by carrying out an inventory of the learning of Moroccan schoolchildren and by examining the first remedial practices. They underline the importance of certain measures of the 2022-2026 roadmap to establish a new model for managing education reform.
The results of international assessments show that the performance of Moroccan students in mathematics, science and language has improved slightly compared to 2011, but remains well below world average scores. Economists also point to the considerable weight of “poor performers” which represents a major challenge.
To improve outcomes, the three economists recommend setting up training programs for staff involved in remedial courses, to raise their awareness of evidence-based teaching strategies. They also highlight the importance of ongoing support for teachers and staff involved in remedial education, including through mentoring programs, peer reviews, and access to professional development opportunities.
They also argue that ensuring teachers have the tools and knowledge to succeed is essential to improving the effectiveness of remedial education and, ultimately, student outcomes. Economists also recommend giving teachers at least one week of in-service training a year, culminating in a certificate that counts for promotions. They also propose strengthening the role of the inspection body in the initial and continuing training of teachers, by offering support and closer intervention.
In conclusion, the document highlights the major challenges facing the Moroccan education system in terms of the quality of learning. It highlights the need to address learning gaps, support teachers and implement comprehensive education system reform to improve student outcomes. The objective is to maximize the positive effects of the reform and to create a new model of education management in Morocco.
On a practical level, a pilot project was deployed from September 6 to 30, 2022, for the benefit of
12,000 beneficiaries in 250 schools.
Thus, mentors were selected from 250 schools representing urban, suburban and rural areas. They received training and trained to implement the support system for 15 days. Then, diagnostic assessments for the benefit of students were initiated to better identify their strengths and weaknesses, with a view to a successful school year.
Following the diagnostic assessments, the students were divided into homogeneous groups
-depending on the extent of the difficulties encountered-, and the TARL (Teaching at the Right Level) method was applied, for three weeks, to 50% of the students with the most shortcomings.
The TARL approach is based on a strategy of grouping children according to their skill level, rather than their class. This innovative educational approach aims to offer personalized support to each child, by providing them with activities and resources adapted to their level of skills, with the aim of helping them progress to the next level.
The theoretical foundation of this approach is based on “combined activities for maximized learning”, an educational method developed to strengthen children’s basic skills in reading and mathematics. The combined activities are designed to promote learning by stimulating the development of different skills, such as reading, writing, listening, speaking and practicing. This structured teaching method is introduced gradually, allowing children to move from learning from the simple to the complex and from the concrete to the abstract, in order to facilitate their learning.
Thus, by adopting the TARL approach, each child can benefit from personalized supervision, adapted to their level of skills, and allowing them to progress effectively to the next level. This innovative educational approach also offers significant benefits for teachers, who can better target the specific needs of each child, as well as for parents, who can more accurately monitor their children’s progress.
At the end of the three weeks of remediation using the TARL method, during the first pilot operation carried out in a school in Tamesna (near Rabat), progress was noted. The level of proficiency in subtraction increased from 10% to 61%, and from 23% to 54% for reading in Arabic, for 4th year primary students. This rate increased from 5% to 20% in French for 5th year primary students. This is synonymous with a reduction from 35% to 3% in the performance gap in subtraction compared to the control group (the top 50% performers), from 54% to 33% in Arabic and from 51% to 36 % in French (in each of the respective levels).