Social dialogue has led to the signing of an agreement between the Moroccan government and education unions on issues such as a unified employment status for national education employees. This new status will replace all pre-existing employment arrangements, which means a fresh start for all, contract teachers included, based on new foundations.
After more than a year of discussions within the framework of social dialogue, the negotiations between the government and the most representative trade union centres in the education sector – Confédération Démocratique du Travail (CDT), Fédération Démocratique du Travail (FDT), Union Marocaine du Travail (UMT) and Union Générale des Travailleurs du Maroc (UGTM) – gave rise, on 14 January, to the signing of a crucial agreement outlining a unified status for all teachers. Present at the signing were the prime minister, Aziz Akhannouch, and the minister of national education, Chakib Benmoussa.
The terms of the agreement reached
The agreement covers two key areas – the issues agreed on and the obligations of the different parties, such as:
- Maintaining the previously secured rights and gains of all employees, while working to create and develop new frameworks;
- The unification of career opportunities for all staff and the creation of gateways;
- The development of a new educational architecture, with the aim of achieving homogeneity between the various components and guaranteeing equity and equal opportunities for public education employees;
- Optimising the professional, social and ethical situation of all public education employees;
- Assessment of professional performance based on objective and measurable criteria;
- The securing of school time and learning time;
- The introduction of new systems to motivate educational and administrative staff in high-value schools; and
- The inclusion of pedagogical and school management tasks in the new official status.
The other major innovation in this agreement is the abandonment of the 12 different employment statuses corresponding to the staff of the 12 Regional Education and Training Academies (AREF) and the integration, for the first time, of objectives relating to the qualification of teachers and the development of their careers.
A historic agreement
“This is a historic agreement in the field of education which allows us to close the file of former fixed-term contract staff. We have agreed on a unified status aimed at developing the education system and the situation of teachers,” said the head of government, Aziz Akhannouch.
The minister of national education, Chakib Benmoussa, noted that “the unified status replaces a system dating back 20 years” and explained that “the same laws will be applied to all teachers, who will all have the same rights and obligations, the same career path opportunities…”.
Acclaimed by the unions, the agreement brings many improvements such as the granting of tenure to temporary teachers recruited by the AREFs, the opening of promotion opportunities for categories of employees whose career paths were limited, the unification of career development opportunities for all staff, the creation of openings and gateways between the various employees and institutions, and the assessment of professional performance based on objective and measurable criteria.
All the measures taken within the framework of this agreement should give rise to additional budget funding of six billion dirhams (547 million euros) by 2026.
Education International (EI) warmly congratulates the education unions and the government of Morocco on this agreement, which demonstrates the importance of social dialogue in improving the status of teachers and moving towards quality education.
Contract teachers included in the agreement
EI recalls that in 2016, rather than improving working conditions and social protection, the government began hiring teachers on precarious fixed-term contracts with reduced social protection. This policy decision was taken in breach of the strategies agreed by the government to work towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) and has been condemned by Moroccan education unions.
In Morocco, 55,000 teachers have been hired on precarious contracts, which is almost 30% of the teaching workforce. Teachers employed under these contracts can be dismissed for “making a mistake” without any right to notice, compensation or appeal. They have had only two weeks of post-graduate training as opposed to a year of in-school training, with few opportunities for promotion and no clear career path. They do not have the same health care or pension benefits as teachers employed as permanent civil servants. Although they receive the same starting salary as permanent teachers, there are clearly deep inequalities within the profession, as contract teachers do not have basic labour rights and job security.
In 2019, teachers’ unions came together to protest against their precarious terms of employment. On 20 February 2019, thousands of teachers peacefully demonstrated in the streets of Rabat to demand that the government respect their labour rights but were met with violence when security forces fired water cannons and charged at teachers with batons, injuring dozens. This was followed by inter-union strikes on an unprecedented scale, with over 70,000 teachers taking strike action for over three weeks. On 23 March (the anniversary of the 1965 student protests during which many were killed), over 10,000 teachers demonstrated in Rabat to call for change.
Moroccan trade unions have also joined together to oppose Law 51-17, which implements the government’s 2015-2030 Strategic Vision. Articles 45 and 48 of the law impose tuition fees in secondary schools and universities, undermining free public education. The Casablanca Declaration, signed by three national education unions ( Syndicat National de l’Enseignement, affiliated to the Confédération Démocratique du Travail, and Syndicat National de l’Enseignement Supérieur and Syndicat National de l’Enseignement, affiliated to the Fédération Démocratique de l’Enseignement), condemns the increasing privatisation of the education system and the government’s failure to implement SDG 4.
For Education International, if SDG 4 is to be achieved, governments, like that of Morocco, urgently need to strengthen the mechanisms for social dialogue with education unions and ensure that teachers are involved in the development of education policies, including decisions on teachers’ terms and conditions of employment. If teachers are involved in the development of such policies from the outset, not only will their implementation be smooth, but policies developed in collaboration with teachers are also more likely to be effective in recruiting and retaining high-calibre candidates within the teaching profession.