The King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, has a problem: during the past year he has made remarkable speeches calling for a renewed spirit of dedication to public service by government officials at all levels; and he has redoubled efforts to improve social services, particularly those preparing young people for the world’s competitive marketplace. Yet, the feedback he is hearing from his people is that intentions are outpacing results and needs are unmet at many levels, including providing services, reducing corruption, improving the educational system.
With this in mind, the King addressed the opening of Morocco’s legislative bodies last week and made his dissatisfaction clear. He began by noting that the beginning of the legislative sessions was “the beginning of a crucial stage in which the holding of public office is linked with accountability, and during which appropriate answers and solutions to citizens’ pressing problems and issues must be found.”
Although he has made this position clear, most recently in his speech on Throne Day, he is clearly not pleased with the lack of follow-through by officials. “I do not criticize just for the sake of criticizing, nor do I let matters go unattended. What I want is for the situation to be addressed, mistakes corrected and shortcomings remedied.” It is a powerful statement calling for specific actions.
In his speech, King Mohammed VI addressed key issues such as regionalization, judicial reform, and government accountability, along with recommendations for accelerating and improving implementation. What is of specific interest is that the King is especially attentive to the needs of the people, “Moroccans today need balanced, equitable development which ensures dignity for all, guarantees income, provides jobs – especially for our young people – and contributes to building confidence, promoting stability, and ensuring integration into professional, social and family life, a goal to which all citizens aspire.”
In order to provide young people with the means to build their futures, the King emphasized the importance of improving education. “Today, Moroccans want a good education for their children – one that does not simply stop at reading and writing. They want an education that guarantees integration into the knowledge and communication-based world; an education that gives access to the job market and contributes to individual and collective advancement, instead of producing large numbers of unemployed people.”
According to the government’s own statistics, Morocco has made impressive gains in job creation, largely in the industrial manufacturing sectors. But youth unemployment, especially among university graduates, is as high as 20%, while many others are in the informal sector or low wage, non-career employment. The World Bank and others have recommended that to build a workforce that is competitive, promotes enterprise and entrepreneurship initiatives, and responds to the market, significant progress must be made in educational reform. This means that the entire sector, from administration and curricula to modern facilities and equipment and competent teachers, to engaging technical and vocational training, must be mobilized in a decade-long program with well-defined and adaptable objectives.
The King stressed that the future is now for students. “As a matter of fact, societal developments in Morocco have made young people important new players with a significant impact on public life. Despite the efforts made, I do not consider the situation of our youths to be heartwarming – and neither do they. Indeed, many young Moroccans are suffering from exclusion and unemployment; many have dropped out of school and many are even deprived of basic social services. The education and training system does not fulfill its role in terms of training young people and ensuring their integration into society.”
He went on further to note that “Given the close link between youth issues, economic growth investment and employment, addressing the concerns of young people requires innovative action and concrete projects that unlock their potential, provide them with jobs and a steady income, offer them stability and enable them to contribute effectively to their country’s development.”
In his final comments on education, the King said, “I call for the development of a new integrated youth policy…that would be based primarily on training and employment. It should be effective in terms of finding realistic solutions to the actual problems plaguing our youths, especially in rural areas and poor suburban neighborhoods.” To ensure that actions will follow intentions, he noted “As part of the measures to develop and adopt that policy, I call for the Advisory Council for Youth and Community Action to be rapidly set up as a constitutional institution and as a forum for discussion, for expressing views and for monitoring youth affairs.”
The King knows that such a Council will be able to shine a light on the rate of achievement in government educational strategies and make recommendations for progress. It is time for results from the many investments made by the government in education, results that come from diligent pursuit of policies, programs, and projects that will enable the youth of Morocco to compete successfully in the world marketplace and build a stronger and more resilient society.