Morocco's top baccalaureate recipient shares secrets to her success
By Sarah Touahri for Magharebia in Rabat – 24/06/09
Houda Abrarou just learned that she received Morocco's highest score on the baccalaureate exams. After getting 18.67 out of 20 for physics, Abrarou’s future looks bright. Magharebia talked with her in Rabat about what she did to surpass everyone else.
Magharebia: How did you take the good news that you achieved the highest average mark nationally for the bac?
Abrarou: I was very happy. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to be at the top for the whole of Morocco, even though I’ve always worked hard and done all I can to keep up with the top students. It’s a great honour for my family, my school, and me.
Magharebia: Who supported you to get this result?
Abrarou: If I’m top of the league now, it’s first thanks to God. My parents supported me all through school. My mother and father always worked to create the best possible conditions for my studies. For example, they allowed me to take private lessons to make sure I didn’t have any problems.
Magharebia: While we’re on the subject, what do you think of private lessons, which are often criticised by students and parents?
Abrarou: I think support lessons have some advantages, but also some disadvantages. A student who takes these lessons should benefit from them, but you notice that some people learn nothing, even if they resort to this way of studying. Personally, I took extra lessons in science and math.
Magharebia: What’s the secret of your success? Is it intelligence or hard work?
Abrarou: It’s both at once. It has to be said that intelligence alone isn’t enough. In fact, intelligence is something that’s cultivated over the years at school. It’s a cumulative thing, which bears fruit over time, enabling a student to work through their courses without problems. The student must be serious and work hard through all their years of study to get a good result in the end.
Magharebia: What are your hopes for the future?
Abrarou: I haven’t decided yet. Given that I’ve received a good average mark, there are a number of choices available to me. For the moment, I’m thinking about preparatory classes. After two years, I’ll be able to get into one of the prestigious schools in Morocco, such as the Mohammedia School of Engineering.
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a doctor. But as the years have gone by, my dream has changed. Now, I’m thinking about engineering, which is a highly prized profession in Morocco.
Magharebia: What’s your take on the educational system in Morocco, from your own personal experience?
Abrarou: Overall, it’s a good system. But some reform is still needed to make it even better, because a great many students can’t decide. Personally, I benefited from the guidance that was there. We were helped a lot.
Magharebia: What advice would you give students to help them excel in their studies?
Abrarou: I just have one piece of advice to give: work and perseverance. A student has to take their work seriously. Taking it seriously yields results. Those who haven’t done well have to admit that they haven’t been preparing seriously all year. You can’t get ready for the exam in just a few days. It’s an effort that starts with the first week of the school year.
Magharebia: You’re still too young to vote. How do you think you’ll vote in the next elections?
Abrarou: I’m not 18 yet. But I think voting is a duty. All the same, I have to admit that I’m not familiar with the world of politics, having always been occupied with my studies.
Magharebia: What do you think of other people your age?
Abrarou: There are young people who are heading in the right direction and achieving good results. Unfortunately, there are others whose lives have taken a more dissolute direction. There are problems of smoking and drugs in schools. Some students are destroying themselves. These problems are due to them being marginalised, both from their families and from school. Students, too, have a huge responsibility to realise they’re putting their future at stake.
Magharebia: What are the main concerns now for young people, particularly girls?
Abrarou: I think most of them are busy with their studies and with the general culture in those fields that interest them, such as art or science. The Internet is attractive to many young people. To be honest, interests vary from one young person to the next. Each one has their own passions.
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