- In little more than a decade, Morocco has moved from only enrolling about half its children to primary school to reach almost universal school enrolment. Also enrolment in secondary schools is sharply rising and the government plans further reforms to increase access to education.
Morocco faced a period of economic stagnation in the late 1990s due to extreme drought which placed a strain on its predominantly agricultural economy. Despite the economic difficulties during this period, Morocco achieved remarkable progress in developing its education system.
Education was extended to almost all children at the primary level. The national enrolment rate for primary education increased from 52 percent during the 1990-1991 school year to an impressive 92 percent during the 2003-2004 school year.
Enrolment in the middle school level increased from 18 percent to 32 percent, and in secondary education from 6 percent to 15 percent over the same period. Morocco is thus finally catching up with its neighbours in the Maghreb region, which for years have had significantly higher school enrolment rates.
The formal education system in Morocco is however still facing many challenges today. According to government analyses, internal inefficiency is high, as evidenced by high drop-out and repetition rates. Gender and geographical disparities still exist at all education levels.
Morocco also faces a rapidly increasing demand for middle schools, as a result of increased access to primary education. With government spending on education already high at 6.6 percent of GDP, opportunities to expand the budget have so far been found to be limited.
A new Basic Education Reform Support Programme, also known as PARSEM, is however set to consolidate the achievements made so far and further increase access to basic education in the kingdom. PARSEM also aims to "improve educational quality, encourage stakeholder participation, ensure financial sustainability and promote accountability in sector management." Especially school children aged six to fourteen are targeted.
These aims are mostly due to be reached by decentralising the educational sector at the central, regional, provincial and local levels. Parallel to the decentralisation process, authorities plan to reinforce and build institutional capacity. By 2008, Morocco hopes to significantly improve the quality of education through reducing dropout and repetition rate and to generalise access to basic education to most school-age children.
Also the funding of the PARSEM reform programme has been resolved. Today, the World Bank approved a US$ 80 million loan to support the reform. According to the World Bank, this was in line with the belief that education sector reform and decentralisation is "one of the key priorities for fighting poverty in the kingdom."
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