Rabat – Canceling Morocco’s regional baccalaureate exams is impossible because it will discredit the baccalaureate diploma, Minister of Education Saaid Amzazi announced on Wednesday.
Speaking before the Education, Culture, and Communication Committee at the House of Representatives, Amzazi said regional baccalaureate exams are essential for students in Morocco.
Regional baccalaureate exams are the tests that students in Morocco take at the end of the second year of high school. Students take the exams in secondary subjects, depending on their branch of studies. The regional exams make up 25% of the overall mark of baccalaureate in Morocco.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students will have to take the 2019-2020 regional exams in the middle of 2020-2021 school year, while enrolled in their last year of high school, Amzazi announced.
According to the minister, postponing Morocco’s regional baccalaureate exams will benefit students, giving them more time to improve their knowledge and develop their skills before the tests.
The Ministry of Education did not yet set a date for the regional baccalaureate exams because of the instability of Morocco’s epidemiological situation, Amzazi said. However, he pledged that students will receive a notification about the date two or three months in advance.
The ministry will publish on August 28 a notice that contains further clarifications about the 2020-2021 school year, Amzazi added.
Face-to-face or remote education
Addressing the debate of in-person versus remote education, the minister stressed that giving parents the right to choose which method they prefer for their children does not mean that the ministry was not able to make a decision.
“It is rather a decision-making right granted to families,” he said.
For families that select face-to-face classes, students will benefit from 15 hours of in-school classes weekly, instead of the usual 30 hours. For the remaining hours, students will have to follow remote lessons under the supervision of their teachers.
The adoption of two separate models will not put more pressure on teachers, Amzazi assured.
“Teachers’ working hours, which are 24 hours every week, will not be affected. There will be no change,” he said.
To ensure that in-person classes take place in safe conditions, the ministry is preparing a strict health protocol, Amzazi revealed.
The protocol includes a series of safety measures, such as the obligation of wearing face masks for all students in the fifth year of primary school or higher.
For pre-school education, Amzazi said that distance education will only be an alternative in remote areas. According to him, the presence of children in classrooms greatly contributes to their mental development.
At the university level, Amzazi indicated that the Ministry of Education is closely coordinating its decision with higher education institutions. However, decisions related to exams fall within the authority of universities as part of their autonomy.
University exams cannot be further postponed after September, Amzazi stressed, because it would prevent students from enrolling in Master’s degrees and PhDs.
For limited-access higher education institutions, exams can take place remotely because of the relatively smaller number of students.
However, for free-access schools, students will have to sit for exams in the test centers designated by the university.
After the exams, universities can begin their 2020-2021 academic year. Amzazi expressed his preference for remote education for university students. However, he said face-to-face classes can take place when necessary as long as students are divided into small groups.
For public students’ dorms affiliated to universities, the ministry is currently working on reducing the number of students per room from four to two. The move would ensure the safety of students residing in the dorms and maintain equal opportunities for students living far from their homes.
When asked about the situation of Moroccan students wishing to continue their studies abroad, the minister explained that “it is not obvious” because the students are enrolled in universities in 40 countries and each country has adopted a different approach.