Moroccan bac students seek post-degree guidance
By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Casablanca – 31/05/09
Students across Morocco are making final preparations for this year's baccalaureate exams, set to begin on Tuesday (June 2nd). They are also wondering what happens next.
Concerned about the value of a university diploma in the present job market, many young people do not know where to turn once they have their baccalaureate. Families are also trying to identify which post-baccalaureate course would be best for their children.
One student, Hamza, still does not know which higher education course he will be taking next September, although he is one of the top students in his high school. He hopes to keep away from university, which he describes as an "unemployment factory".
Hajar has the same concerns, and hopes to find some vocational training suited to the labour market.
"My parents are prepared to pay for my higher education," she told Magharebia, "but with the number of schools in Rabat and Casablanca, choosing between them is becoming difficult, and we can't find anyone to give us good advice and help us decide objectively."
A number of students have sought guidance and inspiration from web forums like Qrayti.com, where students share experiences in high schools and higher education.
Some students warned of the risks of heeding bad advice, however, claiming to have wasted years working in the wrong direction.
Ilham Belghiti said that after studying French literature at university for a year, she had to change course and enter a school of journalism. "I wasted a year of my life, when I could have been steered towards this option from the start. I didn't even know that this course existed."
The Ministry of National Education says that considerable efforts have been made in all academic sectors to provide effective educational guidance. Handbooks are given to students, and a number of guidance forums are held all over Morocco.
These annual meetings see attendance in the hundreds, the ministry said.
Mohamed Baala, a teacher, said there is so much information available on education options that it is only "illiterate parents who cannot choose their children's education options".
His view is not shared by many pupils or parents, who said they would like more interaction with counsellors.
Amina Baaji is a high school teacher in Rabat. She told Magharebia that pupils do not need discussion forums but personal meetings, so that each of them can decide what their needs are.
"These forums are a shop window for schools and institutes, but they do not answer high school students' questions," she said.
Malika Bachiri, a public sector worker, said that students and families do not have enough information about the schools springing up around them. "As a mother, I'm lost," she said. "What choice should I make over my daughter’s future? The ministry must get more involved in providing guidance."
She suggested that there be information campaigns at the end of each school year. "The huge number of unemployed graduates is just the result of choosing the wrong educational options," she concluded.
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