Baccalaureate exams begin for 315,000 Moroccan students
By Sarah Touahri for Magharebia in Rabat – 02/06/09
After weeks of anticipation and anxiety, Moroccan students begin three days of baccalaureate examinations on Tuesday (May 2nd).
Meriem B, 17, began preparing weeks ago for these examinations. Despite having always been among the most outstanding pupils since her primary school days, she has waited for the big day with considerable apprehension.
"I've always liked literary subjects, even though I've always got good marks in all my subjects. That's why I chose the Modern Literature option. Except that now I feel I made a mistake with my choices, because my options from this point onward have turned out to be quite limited," she explained.
Now she is hoping to come away with a good average mark so that she can claim a guaranteed place at the higher institute for journalism, which selects the best baccalaureate holders from around Morocco.
Just like Meriem, thousands of young people foster high hopes of passing the bac.
According to the ministry of education, the number of candidates has risen to 315,718 - 4.77% higher than last year.
The number of girls sitting the examinations is 154,521, making up 48.94% of all candidates, and marking an increase of 12.87% compared with last year.
There are 142,032 candidates taking literary examinations, compared with 147,086 for science subjects, accounting for respectively 44.99% and 46.59% of all candidates. Candidates in technical subjects number 21,765, and 4,835 are sitting for foundation subjects.
The literary branch, which in the past attracted the highest number of candidates, has started to tail off to the benefit of the scientific branch, explained Hamid Badissi, a teacher. This is a result of students' aspirations for a greater choice when they reach higher education, he added.
According to figures from the national education ministry, candidate numbers for the scientific and technical subjects have seen remarkable growth, rising by 7.54% and 33.68% respectively, while those for literature and foundation subjects have dropped by 0.50% and 6.04% respectively compared with last year.
Officials say that everything is in place for the examinations to run smoothly.
"The ministry has issued pupils with a guide to the examinations, including all the legal measures which apply in the case of cheating," said Mohamed Sassi, the director of the Centre for Assessment and Examinations.
To cut down on cheating, the ministry has banned mobile phones along with all unauthorised documentation from being brought in on examination days.
Badissi said that cheating is so serious that it is a threat to the credibility of the baccalaureate diploma. "Hence the supreme importance of putting strict rules in place to discourage candidates from resorting to any fraudulent practices," he added.
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