Ambitious Polytechnic University is Latest Step for First-Class Higher Ed in Morocco – Jean AbiNader

Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
January 19, 2017
King Mohammed VI officially inaugurated the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Benguerir on January 12, 2017. Photo: MAP.

King Mohammed VI officially inaugurated the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Benguerir on January 12, 2017. Photo: MAP.

Morocco’s higher education system is getting more sophisticated in addressing the need to create R&D facilities, as well as to link education to the global economy. Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, which King Mohammed VI inaugurated last week, is an integral part of this educational development and is the spearhead for building a comprehensive knowledge economy in the country. Located between Marrakech and Settat, the University is made up of an engineering school, the School of Industrial Management (EMINES), and a School of Governance, Economic Science, and Social Science located in Rabat. The Polytechnic has a research center for scientific and social research, promoting innovation and best practices, in cooperation with other Moroccan and international universities.

The Polytechnic University, initiated by King Mohammed VI, has been a special project of OCP, the country’s largest industry and world leader in phosphate mining and production of its derivatives. OCP is playing a major role in the King’s economic diplomacy on the African continent and has signed a number of bilateral agreements to enhance the production, distribution, and use of fertilizers and other phosphate derivatives tailored specifically for the continent.

On its website, OCP notes that research at the Polytechnic has two main components: a broad focus on industrial processes, in particular innovative industrial processes that lie at the heart of manufacturing added value – thus pivoting Morocco into a downstream leader in the global agricultural industry; and research into social, economic and political developments that affect human development. The research aims to develop insights into the impact of changes ongoing in Morocco’s political, economic, and social transformations, how this affects Moroccans, and the implications for public policy.

Consistent with Morocco’s goal to be a global leader in renewable and green energy projects, the Polytechnic buildings and infrastructure are environment-friendly and adapted to the local environment, including an ecology area. There are facilities for entertainment, cultural events, and recreation. It is the first campus of its kind in Africa, integrating green technologies and sensibilities across all components including the school for industrial management, a research center, student and faculty residences, a sports center, and a range of laboratory and testing facilities, all designed to be sustainable and energy-efficient.

Mohammed VI Polytechnic University is working with OCP and international partners such the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on research in water, agriculture and the environment; natural resources and food security; biotechnology and biomedical engineering; architecture, urbanism, and land use; industrial and chemical engineering; and renewable energy. The goal is to develop best practices and offer solutions to challenges facing the African continent.

The University, which will train Moroccan and foreign researchers and entrepreneurs, intends to promote higher education and applied research in Africa through partnerships with African universities, mainly at the post-graduate and doctoral levels.

The king is a keen advocate of improving education in Morocco. He supports a wide range of educational initiatives, from improved and market-oriented vocational and technical instruction in English and encouraging student exchanges, to instituting more science and technology courses in secondary schools and universities.  He has made it abundantly clear that Morocco’s national education policy must prepare citizens to be full and productive participants in a strong and growing economy, both at home and globally.  The Mohammed VI Polytechnic University is helping Moroccan – and African – students make great strides toward that goal.

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