Learning Poverty
Within the past decade, the Moroccan government has begun working to improve the nation’s education system. Its goal is to minimize learning poverty by 2030. This looks to be a challenging feat, as Morocco consistently ranks among the worst countries for education.

In 2019, a World Bank study found that 66% of Moroccan 10-year-olds have trouble with simple reading comprehension. This is partially due to ineffective schooling methods. In 10 years of schooling, Moroccan students only complete approximately six years of effective learning. COVID-19 has pushed Morocco’s learning poverty to the edge, with educational progress decreasing to only five years.

Learning poverty leads children into a cycle of intergenerational poverty. Children with poor reading skills are more likely to fall behind in education and eventually drop out. This results in poverty, limited job opportunities and emotional strain.

In 2019, Morocco passed the Education Act to pursue education reforms to address the primary causes of the learning crisis. With the help of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank, Morocco comes a step closer to achieving its goal by 2030.

USAID’s Work with the Moroccan Ministry of Education

USAID is an organization leading “the U.S. Government’s international development and disaster assistance through partnerships and investments that save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance and help people emerge from humanitarian crises and progress beyond assistance.”

As early as 2015, USAID worked with the Moroccan Ministry of Education (MOE) to incorporate ways to improve reading instruction and language teaching in a national teaching preparation program. Together, the two organizations launched a five-year Higher Education Partnership to improve pre-service training for teachers in hopes of sustaining a large supply of well-qualified, highly-trained educators. The Reading for Success program develops and tests effective methods to increase students’ reading and comprehension skills.

In addition, USAID signed a memorandum of understanding that lays the groundwork to formally recognize Moroccan Sign Language as a real language. This aims to strengthen Deaf education in primary schools in order to make education even more accessible and inclusive.

The World Bank’s Moroccan Education Support Program

In 2019, the World Bank created the Moroccan Education Support Program by loaning $500 million to the nation’s 2015-2030 Educational Sector Vision initiative. The program’s goal is to better support Morocco’s efforts in improving the lives of children.

The first component of the plan is to create an environment for quality pre-primary education. This means providing educators with the necessary training, set standards and incentivizing early childhood education both regionally and provincially. Secondly, the initiative aims to enhance teacher training by upgrading teachers’ training and creating solid career paths to ensure that they are well-equipped to teach children positively. And lastly, it aims to have a better system set up to deal with educational and operational issues by strengthening sector professionals’ capabilities in leadership and management at the financial and human resource levels.

Looking Forward

So far, with the World Bank, the quality of early childhood education has seen some improvements. Also, the support for the primary and secondary teaching workforce has grown and schools have maintained higher operational capacity. In March 2023, the World Bank allocated an additional $250 million to the Program, which is to aid in alleviating pandemic-induced burdens as well as to achieve more ambitious results.

With these programs ongoing, the resulting achievements in the educational system could be of great benefit to Moroccan children and the future of Morocco. Overall, putting an end to learning poverty carries the potential to end the cycle of intergenerational poverty affecting many people in the country.

– Kenzie Nguyen
Photo: Flickr