University deadlines add to worries of Moroccan bac students
By Sarah Touahri for Magharebia in Rabat – 29/04/10
Moroccan students studying for the bac exams have another worry to add to their plate: major colleges are beginning their enrolment process before the start of exams.
"I must pass with good or very good merits to be admitted," Miriam said. "You have to pay 65,000 dirhams for five years. It's too much for my family, but besides my parents' savings, my father will get a loan."
Miriam hopes to gain admission into the new School of Economics and Governance founded in Rabat in 2008, she said. Financial concerns and application deadlines loom even as she studies for her final exams.
"She has always been brilliant," said her mother, Amina Berrada. "The big day is approaching. We have to meet the deadlines," she said with a tone of optimism and worry.
Berrada is rushing to contact public and private colleges for her daughter.
"Even with our limited income, I have been saving for her higher education tuition for years," she said. "It's even better if she is accepted into a prestigious public school."
Not all high school students are lucky enough to have parents who saved money for years for their children's university education. Hajer, a baccalaureate candidate in Mathematical Science, said that she is trying hard to score high enough to secure a place in a public school.
"The selection frightens me," she said. "If my family had enough financial resources to pay for my education, I would have worried less, because there are a large number of private schools [from which to choose]. I have to excel [on the bac] to be among the elite who are trained in public schools."
Less academically gifted students are also concerned about their future, but are realistic about their chances.
Hicham Bekkali, a baccalaureate candidate in literature, said that he does not intend to apply to a private college with his mediocre grades and his family's limited finances. His only real choice, he said, is to decide to which university department he will apply.
"My future looks unclear sometimes, and that is affecting how I prepare for the exams," Bekkali said. "But I was told that the prospects of the university are becoming increasingly promising."
Young baccalaureate candidates are becoming more strategic in the fields they choose to enter as they see the high unemployment rates faced by recent university graduates, sociologist Samira Kassimi said.
"The Moroccan society is on the rise. Middle class families, at least, are thinking in advance of their children's higher education to guarantee them a place in the labour market," she added.
Starting this year, Moroccan final-year students will receive an information packet explaining what choices are available to them and how to prepare for the bac, Higher Education Minister Ahmed Akhchichine said. The new procedure implements Morocco's emergency plan for education.
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