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Morocco Week in Review 
June 15, 2013

North African Feminism: what sort of ideology?
By Youssef Harrak Morocco World News Oujda, Morocco, June 13, 2013

Feminism in North Africa, as I have claimed in the title, is a sort of ideological principles. Even the epithet of feminism reflects a certain ideology; it evokes strong emotional responses which might be developed into a set of ideas or political demands. This can be noticed clearly in the current hard-talk which is launched by feminists. Perhaps we cannot make sense of the world we inhibit in the absence of such trends. However, I am not calling for the withdrawal of women’s rights defenders; rather, I am calling for a comprehensive political supposition which can compartmentalize human rights and human commitments. So, my contention is that North African feminists should rethink their ideologies, because the fact of defending women’s rights depending on different ideologies might lead to an ideological clash………….

Read more here:

Some 92,000 children aged 7-15 are engaged in child labour in Morocco (HCP).
Rabat – June 12, 2013 (MAP)

Some 92,000 children aged 7-15 are engaged in child labour in Morocco, or 1.9 pc of all children in this age group, according to the results of a survey of the High Commission for Planning (HCP) issued on the occasion of the World Day against Child Labour observed annually on June 12.

The phenomenon of child labor in Morocco is however in sharp decline since 1999 when it touched 9.7 pc of all children of 7 to less than 15 years, or 517,000 children, says the survey, stressing that the child labor is concentrated mainly in rural areas where it touches 3.9 pc of children (85,000) against 16.2 pc in 1999 (452,000 children). In the cities, this phenomenon concerns 0.3 pc of urban children (7000) against 2.5 pc in 1999 (65,000 children), the same source adds, noting that more than nine working children in ten (92 .4 per cent) live in rural areas.

Moreover, this phenomenon affects more boys than girls (54.1 pc are male). This proportion varies from 51.1 pc to 90.3 pc in urban areas. Depending on the circumstances, 21.7 pc of children work alongside their schooling, 59.2 pc dropped out of school and 19.1 pc have never attended school.

The UNICEF estimates that nearly one in six children aged 5–14 are engaged in child labour in the world. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), 7.4 million children in the same age group are domestic workers.

Morocco: “little maids” but big victims.
Wed, 12 Jun 2013 Jérémie Henriod

Each year Terre des hommes witnesses young girls from rural zones in Morocco being exploited by employers in the city, despite the strengthening of laws in Morocco. Tdh workers in Morocco work to help these girls, but also to raise community awareness of the risks that these “little maids” face.

The rise of the middle class in Morocco is pushing some families to want to appear more wealthy, even though they might not necessarily be that well-off. In order to be to employ domestic staff, some families have no qualms about hiring young girls from the countryside who are cheaper to employ and who are too young to rebel. These girls are recruited by “Samsars” – intermediaries from the same village – who send them to the towns to work as “little maids” whilst promising to provide a wage for the parents and a good education for the girls.

Rkia, Tdh project coordinator in Morocco, explains that parents are usually unaware of the problem: “one of the main problems is a lack of education on the part of the parents. They do not understand what the girls placed in the town have to do on a daily basis.” Whilst the parents receive a monthly “payment”, they do not know that their daughters do not receive any education and that they are beaten, undernourished and neglected and that they are forced to do all sorts of domestic tasks.

30,000 maids despite the fact that it is prohibited by law

Children under the age of fifteen are not allowed to work in Morocco and a law outlining domestic labour was introduced in 2011. Nonetheless, almost 10% of children aged between five and fourteen work to help their family make ends meet and 30,000 of them are employed as domestic servants.

But beyond the figures we can see a harsh reality: each year “little maids” die as a result of mistreatment by their employer. Although these terrible recurring incidents have pushed civil society and the Moroccan government to take action and introduce prevention campaigns, the results are yet to be seen. “People are not aware of the new legislation. Television programmes explain the new laws but use a vocabulary which is inaccessible to many. The presenters need to use more simple terms and take the time to discuss the matter so that the message is sent.”

Protect the “little maids” and raise awareness with the families

Tdh calls for a strict enforcement of the law relating to child labour in Morocco and wishes to implement, together with Moroccan civil society, a protection plan for children who are victims of exploitation. The teams establish communication with the employers in order to protect the young girls and to reinsert them by ensuring that they have access to a school or professional training, as well as social services and healthcare. The teams also carry out prevention measures with the families and communities concerning the risks relating to domestic work and offer alternative activities through which the families can generate income.

Rkia favours dialogue with religious leaders in the villages in order to make them aware of the problem: “I use religion a lot. The Koran contains clear messages regarding the protection of women and children. I discuss this a lot with imams in the villages in which we intervene and I convince them to share these messages with men during the Friday prayers. Being able to put yourself in the place of the people in the villages, speak their language and use images which speak to them forms the basis of any awareness campaign.”

Through its projects, Tdh was able to help 1,583 children in 2012, as well as provide support and raise awareness among thousands of parents.

Morocco Says Subsidy Cuts Dependent on Commodity Prices
By Souhail Karam June 11, 2013 (Bloomberg)

Morocco will find it hard to cut subsidies as long as oil prices stay high, General Affairs and Governance Minister Najib Boulif said, even as the country comes under pressure from the International Monetary Fund. “If oil prices were to fall drastically, so would the size of the financial effort we would need to make to dismantle subsidies for fuels,” Boulif said by phone from Rabat. “As long as global commodity prices are high, the reform of the subsidy system will be difficult to implement.” Any reform would “be gradual and stretch over three to four years,” the minister said today.

Subsidies accounted for over 80 percent of Morocco’s 7.1 percent budget deficit posted in 2012, higher than the government’s 5.5 percent projection. The government has raised wages, pensions and spent more on subsidies every year since protests over unemployment and living costs inspired by the Arab Spring revolts swept through the region in 2011.

Morocco’s $100-billion economy was granted a $6.2 billion liquidity line by the IMF last year. The government pledged to reform its subsidy, tax and pensions systems and bring the deficit down to 3 percent by 2017. Morocco imports all its oil, gas and coal needs, and relies on sugar and wheat imports to meet domestic needs. Those imports accounted for 60 percent of the trade deficit in 2012, which stood at 197 billion dirhams or 23 percent of GDP.

A few days after meeting an IMF delegation on a consultation visit to Morocco, Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane said Moroccans should brace for “painful measures to come.” “They were asking ‘what are you going to do with the reforms because your situation is shaky as far as the IMF is concerned’,” Benkirane said of members of the IMF delegation, in a video posted on his Islamist Justice and Development Party’s official Website this week.

“Morocco today lives beyond its means,” he said. “You have to adjust the state consumption to levels you can control, otherwise creditors will come knocking.”

Princess Lalla Hasnaa Presides in Marrakech Over Signing of Three Partnership Agreements On Environmental Education.
10 June 2013 Marrakech

HRH Princess Lalla Hasnaa, President of the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, presided, Monday morning in Marrakech, over the signing of three partnership agreements in the field of environmental education.

The agreements were signed on the sidelines of the 7th World Environmental Education Congress, which opened on Sunday in Marrakech under the theme "Environmental Education in Cities and Rural Areas: Seeking Greater Harmony".

They were signed by the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment and a number of partners. Signed between the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment and the Ministry of Education, the first agreement touches on the implementation and mainstreaming of the Eco-Schools programme.

This international programme of the Foundation for Environmental Education was introduced in Morocco in 2006. It aims to teach the principles of sustainable development in primary schools, mobilizing students, teachers, parents and associations around projects on water, energy, waste, biodiversity and food.

A green flag rewards the efforts of schools that implement this programme, whose growing success has spurred the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Education to gradually expand the programme to all schools.

The second agreement on the introduction and promotion of environmental and sustainable development awareness-raising and education in youth, children and women centres, was concluded between the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, the Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water and the Environment, and the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The agreement provides for the introduction of Environment Clubs in youth centres, training leaders, organizing educational visits, and providing them with equipment, materials and awareness-raising tools.

Regarding the third agreement on environmental education, it was concluded between the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) for the period 2013-2015. The two institutions shall, under the agreement, promote environmental education programmes within ISESCO member countries, exchange expertise and experience, and develop joint projects.

Mobile Phone Usage In Morocco Continues Growth.

Mobile phone usage in Morocco continues on its upward trajectory, thanks to an upsurge in competition and reduced prices over the last year and a half. According to Global Arab Network, the mobile penetration rate in the country has surged rapidly in recent years, exceeding government target. The penetration rate currently stands at 120 percent from 113.6 percent at the end of 2011.

The government target – set under the government’s “Digital Morocco 2013” Programme – is aimed at getting 34 million clients in fixed-line and mobile sectors by next year. But this target was met and surpassed by the middle of 2011 boosted by an increase in mobile phone subscriptions, which currently amount to 38.3 million, according to the Global Arab Network.

Maroc Telecom has the largest share of the market, controlling 47.07 percent. It is then followed shortly by Méditel with 29.93 percent of the mobile cake and Wana with 23 percent. “The competition on the telecoms market has become more intense since Wana was awarded its GSM license in early 2010,” Fayçal Allouch, a telecoms analyst at CFG Group, told OBG. “Its policy was to compete on the basis of low prices through a series of aggressive promotions on prepaid services. Now promotions on the market are more important and more frequent.”

IMF thinks Morocco is too hesitant over reforms, Prime Minister says.
RABAT Mon Jun 10, 2013 (Reuters)

The International Monetary Fund has told Morocco it is too hesitant in implementing reforms to improve its public finances, Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane said, but he pledged to move ahead with planned subsidy cuts and other measures.

An IMF delegation is in Morocco, scrutinizing the North African county's finances to see if it is still meeting the criteria of a two-year $6.2 billion precautionary credit line the IMF approved in 2012.

"I have received them (The IMF delegation) and they said that our government is hesitant about reforms," Benkirane told a meeting of his Islamist Justice and Development party (PJD) on Sunday. "I reassured them and I said that we are moving ahead with reforms at the right time," he added, as reported by the PJD's website. "But I can't give you more details."  

The IMF is urging Morocco to reform its subsidy and pension systems to cut public spending. The PJD, the biggest party in government, wants to implement reforms but is facing opposition from its coalition partners who fear subsidy cuts and other reforms could provoke unrest. The disagreement on policy is endangering the unity of the coalition and has already pushed back subsidy reforms, which had been due to start this month.

Morocco's junior government party, the conservative Istiqlal, is threatening to quit the coalition unless Islamist premier Benkirane moderates plans for sweeping cuts to food and energy subsidies.

Benkirane insisted the reforms would go ahead. "If Moroccans see that we are unable to make some reforms, I want to tell them that it will take some time but we are doing it," Benkirane said. "Morocco had been irresolute about the subsidy reform for many years, but I have changed that and have planned the reform at once." But he did not give a timetable for the reforms.

The IMF delegation is due to finish its visit to the Moroccan capital on Wednesday and will release its assessment a few weeks later, sources told Reuters.

The political establishment around King Mohammed is anxious to avoid a drop in living standards and prevent a repeat of street protests seen in 2011, which the king managed to stifle with social spending, harsh policing and constitutional reforms that paved the way for the PJD to come to power.

The coalition parties are waiting for the king's decision on reforms as he retains the ultimate power even though constitutional reforms in the wake of the Arab spring protest in 2011 handed more power to the prime minister.

The monarch has been in France for more than four weeks, according to local media reports, and there has been no official statement to explain his absence.

Sheikha Moza visits Silatech partner ANApec in Morocco.

HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser has visited Morocco’s National Agency for the Promotion of Employment and Skills (ANApec) in Rabat. HH Sheikha Moza is the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Silatech, a Doha-based social initiative whose mission is to promote youth employment and entrepreneurship opportunities throughout the Arab world.

Silatech’s Board of Trustees held its annual meeting in Rabat on Sunday, reviewing the organisation’s progress and signing a number of new agreements with Moroccan partners in the fields of microenterprise, employability and life skills training, and investment in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Hafid Kamal, Director-General of ANApec, welcomed HH Sheikha Moza to ANApec and presented an overview of the Silatech-ANApec partnership, along with Silatech’s CEO Dr. Tariq Yousef and country representative Mariam Tyabji-Guyer, while chief of agency Salma Tazi escorted her on a brief tour of the agency.

Since 2010, Silatech has provided technical assistance and capacity building to ANApec, as well as language assessments linking job seekers to advanced training and employment opportunities for which French or English skills are critical.

HH Sheikha Moza then met directly with a number of young Moroccans who were participating in a Tamheed career guidance counselling session in ANApec at that time, as well as with Silatech Master Tamheed Trainer Manal ElAttir and several ANApec career guidance advisers. Six young people who had already completed the Tamheed assessment discussed with Her Highness how it helped them to make more objective and informed decisions about their future careers.

Tamheed is Silatech’s signature career guidance programme; it includes online psychometric and language assessments, a career advising framework, and training and capacity building for career advisors. Effective career guidance programmes are rare in the Arab world, resulting in many young people entering into careers for which they are either ill suited or poorly prepared.

As Morocco’s national employment agency, ANApec has a network of 77 branches. By expanding the reach of the Tamheed assessment programme and the number of trained Tamheed advisers, Silatech and ANApec will be able to help young Moroccans throughout the country make informed and satisfying career choices. Moreover, building ANApec’s capacity to select and place young Moroccans in jobs in high growth sectors of the Moroccan economy aligns with the national priority outlined in the Moroccan Government’s National Pact for Industrial Emergence 2009-2015.

The good oil.
By Graham Reid Email Graham Jun 10, 2013

Graham Reid finds flavour through goats and a stark desert where the West's latest beauty "must-have" grows .

"You guarantee it?" "Oh yes, there are a lot of goats... and not so many trees," he announced with satisfied smile.

I'm still not sure about the first point, but he was certainly right on the second.

The road from Marrakech through Sidi Moktar to the wind-blown Atlantic coast of Morocco is largely bereft of vegetation, and people. This arid, low, rolling plain, through which an excellent sealed road bisects the scuffed-yellow desert, is occasionally punctuated by small villages, a few pitstops selling food, handcrafts and trinkets, and a couple of large towns. But mostly there is not much on either side of the highway. Certainly not many trees.

The straight road has overcrowded buses and stacked-high trucks swerving around donkey-drawn carts heading for markets, boys on cheap motorcycles weaving like sidewinders across the lane and old men in hooded cloaks sitting in the dust at the roadside waiting for... whatever old Moroccan men wait for in throat-choking dust.

The rock-strewn desert stretches towards the horizon beneath a pale blue sky. It's 35 degrees and the road ahead disappears in a shimmer of blue heat haze. It looks like we're driving into a sky-pale ocean that constantly retreats before us.

Near the crossroad town of Douar Ouled Brahim where men hold up brightly coloured carpets for sale, we pass an impressive new building. It has minarets and those exotic architectural contours so familiar in this region, so I ask, "A new mosque?" The driver glances sideways. "No. Supermarket."

That figures. Little is as it seems out here and beyond the town the landscape empties out even more. The parched land to the left between here and the fortified city of Ait Benhaddou has been the location for numerous films; marines in makeup scars and the Egyptian undead have walked here, then gone back to their hotels for drinks.

Doubtless they too saw the goats in the trees, because suddenly, just past Sidi Moktar, standing confidently on thin branches of stumpy bushes, there they were - six fat goats in one small, almost leaf-bare bush. Then there are more. And more. As the man said, not so many trees, and a lot of goats in them.

We pull off into a small factory-cum-shop, the hub of the Assouss Argane collective, and get the strange story behind tree-climbing goats.

This is the land of argan, a walnut-sized berry on these resilient trees that grow only in this forbidding, often inhospitable, climate. Goats climb the trees for the fruit.

Traditionally, seeds that had passed through the goats were collected, then through labour-intensive cracking and pounding were turned into a smooth paste from which oil was extracted. This oil is highly prized by the Berber people for its healthy, healing properties.

On hearing this, my wife and I look at each other and silently mouth "Bali" in private amusement. The previous year, while driving near Ubud, we'd stopped at a coffee plantation and sampled the odd-tasting luwak coffee. As we enjoyed the beverage, the view and the company, it suddenly struck us that this place collected beans that had passed through wild cats, and they used that for their coffee blend.

You have to ask: who first looked at the droppings of a civet cat and thought, "That bean in there might taste good if it was crushed and mixed with hot water"? That said, the Bali coffee was decent enough.

I have become a quick convert to argan oil as a nutty, delicious flavouring on a salad.

These argan collectives around the region, which no longer have to rely on picking through goat droppings but on more modern methods of extraction, are run by local women who welcome visitors and encourage them to try cracking and pounding. We're all hopeless, and the women delight in our lack of skill.

Day after day these cheery ladies sit and grind argan berries with large stones. I suspect out the back is a mechanised industry and this front-of-house stuff is for exotic show, because any time-and-motion analysis would say this is far too labour intensive to be productive. The woman on the cellphone might have been talking to her distributor in Paris - this rare argan oil is the fashionable beauty treatment du jour.

Also, the blend of argan oil, honey and almond for cooking is a locked-in guarantee of flavour. We bought some and use it sparingly on salads, especially when we have guests, who always comment favourably on the slightly nutty but sweet taste.

If we're looking for a conversation starter, or stopper, after dinner we mention our Balinese coffee, which someone invariably wants to try. It's a bit thin and slightly bitter, and few ever finish a cup. But they do ask where it came from.
Graham Reid travelled to England with assistance from Cathay Pacific but paid his own way to Morocco . - Herald on Sunday By Graham Reid

Moroccan lawmakers recognize shortcomings.
By Siham Ali in Rabat for Magharebia – 10/06/2013

A key message out of an international seminar in Rabat last week was that Parliament's relations with the Moroccan people must improve.

The two-day seminar on evolving relationships between lawmakers and citizens across the Arab world last wrapped up last Thursday (June 6th) and was co-hosted by Parliament. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) were the other hosts.

Critics have accused Moroccan lawmakers of being out of touch with the populace, particularly young people.

Read more here:

Morocco's Sacred Music Festival.
Tuesday 11 June 2013

The Sacred Music Festival is curently on the go in the city of Fes in Morocco. It focuses on the shared heritage of Morocco and Spain, and the cultural influences both have had on each other.

The festival attracts international artists from around the world each year, promising a variety of styles. Even South Africa's own Johnny Clegg performed on stage at the 2007 show. This year will see the Ladysmith Red Lions featuring from South Africa. American singer songwriter, Patti Smith is due to headline the show.

The festival, now in it's 19th year, promises to be a cultural journey, and runs until June 15, 2013.

Morocco’s Citrus Shipments Seen Tripling to 1.3 Million Tons.
By Souhail Karam June 13, 2013

Morocco plans to more than triple its citrus fruit exports to 1.3 million metric tons by 2018 as a development program raises output, according to Ahmed Derrab, secretary general of industry group ASPAM.

Aging groves, narrowing margins from sales to the euro-zone area, increased competition from Egypt and Turkey and growing domestic demand eroded exports of products including oranges to key markets including the European Union, Derrab, whose group represents 80 percent of the country’s producers, said by phone yesterday from Casablanca. Morocco was the fourth-biggest provider of citrus fruit imports into the EU in the period from 2009 through 2012, according to Eurostat data.

In the 1998-2011 period, Morocco’s total citrus exports averaged 528,000 tons a year, according to finance and economy ministry data. In the period that started in October and ends this month, exports fell to 380,000 tons, Derrab said. “It is one of the lowest export figures we had in 40 years,” Derrab said. “But things will change fast enough for our exports to increase as of next year and continue gradually to reach 1.3 million tons by end-2018.”

The EU, which Derrab said offers the highest margins for Moroccan citrus, accounts for 30 percent of its exports while Russia takes 50 percent, with the remainder going mainly to the U.S., Canada and Saudi Arabia. “We went to Russia because it was easy to penetrate as a market,” Derrab said. “But it’s not healthy as we run the risk of being too dependent on it and politics may change in a way that can hurt us.”

EU Market

“Our aim is to reposition ourselves on the EU market,” Derrab said. “We also hope to explore other profitable markets but our ports are not well connected enough to go far and wide. Logistics costs therefore become prohibitive.”

Midway through a $1 billion, government-backed industry development plan that started in 2008, Derrab said its execution is ahead of schedule. The plan provides for a 33 percent expansion of citrus-planted areas to 122,000 hectares (301,469 acres), and an increase in production from 1.2 million tons to 2.9 million tons.

“As far as the rejuvenation and extension of our citrus groves are concerned, we currently meet the objectives that were initially set,” Derrab said. “But we need to move faster on the logistics front to ensure the expected increase in production will be worth the investment effort.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Souhail Karam in Cairo at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at

Cheating among Moroccan youth: sign of government’s code of ethics.
By Omar Bihmidine Morocco World News Sidi Ifni, June 13, 2013

With the advent of technology, life has been made easier for many people, including teachers and students. Use of technology has become an integral part of quality-based education all over the world. Yet, this does not necessarily mean that it will serve us well all the time.  Technology, like most tools that represent societal “progress”, has both advantages and drawbacks.

It all depends on how we use it. Think of distance learning. If it were not for this blessing called technology, no one would benefit from this kind of learning. At the same time, think of ‘distance cheating’. If it were not for advanced technology   such sophisticated cheating would be impossible, and it would not be plaguing our schools the way it does today.

We often hear that Moroccans are technologically inclined. Some of them are even known as technological geniuses, that rare breed of IT masters. A good example of this is the presence of Moroccan hackers on the notorious Israeli pirating website (among others). Did you  hear about the Moroccans who stole money from foreign bank accounts? Have you heard of the Moroccans living abroad? They show their genius on daily basis working in the fields of information technology, research, and science for powerhouses like NASA. 

Despite all of this positive progress, our education system is simply not moving forward.  We have not heard that technology which contributes considerably to the world’s education has improved our education system. This technology and IT training has improved global society perhaps but my question is, has it improved our education system?

It is a real pity that many Moroccan youths misuse technology. They use it, not necessarily to research areas of knowledge, but to hack into someone’s Facebook account or to sell pirated DVDS. They use it, not necessarily to share knowledge and help produce it, but to comment on a photo and use Photoshop to change it. They use it to cheat, copy exam photos, and to invade other individuals’ privacy. They don’t utilize the immense wealth of information on the internet, for example, to expand their knowledge of the world around them. They use it as a lazy short cut to alleged “success.”

They use it, not necessarily to create pages where students learn from one another, study, exchange knowledge, but to “like” of Baccalaureate leak exams, copy answers and send them to their friends and classmates who are taking the exams.

Instead of using this power for the purpose of learning and improving our ignominious educational levels, some Moroccan students have tarnished the image of our education system even more by cheating and helping others cheat. The crux of the matter is that the exceptional students who truly succeed are negatively affected by the increasing number of cheaters. There is solidarity in cheating, not in learning, when it comes to Moroccan youth.

Whether we like it or not, more cheating cases have been recorded, and the fact that Morocco’s Minister of Education, Mohamed El Ouafa, himself admitted to the cases, simply gives us the impression that more cheating has gone unrecorded in other parts of Morocco.

Some might say that we must not generalize and say that cheating is everywhere in Moroccan schools. However, in my experience, it really is a frighteningly ubiquitous phenomenon. A large number of students are simply waiting for the opportunity to cheat. And if they are given this chance, they will not hesitate to cheat. This is a deep rooted problem relating to our education system, but also relating to our code of ethics in everyday life. A very small number of students adopt the principle not to cheat. Cheating, for poor students, is an escape. Cheating, for these students, is a new form of success. Cheating, for such students, is, strange as it may seem,   the key to higher education. Cheating, be it traditional or distant, leads to undeserved success.

In the presence of a deplorable education system, students mistake undeserved success for deserved success. And the recruiting committee mistakes Baccalaureate diplomas for certificates of success. The Ministry of Education, for its part, mistakes an average percentage of success on Baccalaureate exams as a sign of progress in Morocco’s education system. They, also, are looking for easy and fast solutions to challenging problems.

Parents themselves go on to say that their children have succeeded without knowing that their success is a result of dishonesty.  Nearly everyone is tricked into believing that cheating is the exception, not the rule. 

If the majority of students honestly succeed, as many claim, then our education system must at least obtain an average ranking in the world’s education ranking. But, in fact, it does not. Since the majority of students in some way or another cheat, our education reforms are continuously deemed a failure and the recruiting committee continues to be astounded by the staggeringly low level of diploma holders and qualified candidates.

Only monitors at universities, high schools and primary schools can really testify to the number of cheaters. UNESCO bases its reports on the field trips and visits it pays to these monitors, whereas our Ministry bases its reports of success on numbers and percentages.

Here, we may ask: Can only the students be held accountable for the massive spread of cheating? Of course not! The Ministry of Education has taught students this culture of cheating when it itself cheats them by not teaching them well. In other words, is it really so shocking that our students have resorted to cheating when our government has utterly failed to foster a successful learning environment with properly trained teachers and well-thought out curriculum? 

How can we expect students not to cheat if they are not properly taught how to learn? How can we expect students not to cheat if the Ministry recruits and sends untrained and unqualified teachers into classrooms? How can we expect students not to cheat when they know that success at Moroccan schools is the only key to higher education and a better life?  This is ultimately a systemic problem of dishonesty and corruption at all level of Moroccan society. How can we expect students to be honest, when our government is not?

Let us teach students appropriately and show them the importance of deserved success in education. We must investigate the motives that lead students to cheat instead of simply looking at the cheating cases. All of us, psychologists, sociologists, psychiatrists, educators, trainers, must attempt to fully comprehend this phenomenon. Without coming to grips with the cheating phenomenon, we cannot succeed in eradicating it.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
©Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed
Published with permission by Friends of Morocco

Veil and Muslim women: Between feminist deaf ears and Western media.
By Youssef Sourgo Morocco world news Casablanca, June 10, 2013

There exists a plurality of approaches to the veil worn by Muslim women. For some Western feminists, the veil is emblematic of Muslim women’s oppression and marginalization. It symbolizes inequality, subservience and backwardness, characteristics that are for those feminists typical of all Muslim societies. The feminists who hold this view are usually misinformed or uninformed about Islam, its history and philosophy. Their assertions stem from the mainstream conception of the veil disseminated by Western mainstream media (Bullock 15) .

A more sophisticated approach to the veil is the one held by Western feminists who are highly informed about Islam and have a greater understanding of its philosophy. They reject the extremist approaches to the veil, which link the later to extremist and violent occurrences in the world. These Western feminists are more critical of the allegations that are usually leveled at Muslim societies, which usually maintain that women are forced by both their religion and men in their society to wear the veil. However, this version of feminism still argues that a lot of Muslim women do not wear the veil by choice. Their activism is thus concerned with those very women………

Continues here:

Novovision Candid Camera Series Travels to Morocco.
By Joanna Padovano June 13, 2013

Morocco's 2M has snapped up 30 episodes of Novovision's new candid-camera series, which targets viewers in the Middle East and is the company's first production in the Arab region.

Locally titled Al Camera al Majnouna (Crazy Camera), the 13-minute show was inspired by Novovision's Crazy Hidden Camera. The production was filmed in Casablanca and watches as Moroccans take part in hidden camera gags. It is scheduled to air on the network in prime-time during Ramadan, which kicks off on July 9.

Zouheir Zrioui, 2M's head of broadcasting and director of programming, noted: "I am eager to see the reaction of 2M's viewers. They have never had candid cameras filmed by a global expert, and should be particularly pleased to see them shot in Morocco by Novovision."

"2M has loyally broadcast new seasons of Pop Corn TV every year for the past six years," added François-Xavier Poirier, the president of Novovision. "We are very honored to produce these 30 hidden-camera shows for the Middle East, especially for Morocco's No. 2 broadcaster. Filming in Morocco is a great pleasure for us. The people there are so hospitable and friendly that we hope this experience will be the first in a long series of productions. In fact, we are planning to produce a certain number of projects in Morocco for our Arabic-speaking clients, who are seeking quality humorous programming."

Gillette geology aficionado spends free time hunting for fossils in Morocco mine
By SARAH ELMS  Gillette News RecordJune 13, 2013

When John Arnold approached the mouth of the Aholie mine 12 miles north of Midelt, Morocco, it was like he never left. The 56-year-old tightened the straps of his backpack and turned on the light strapped on his head. He was ready.

While deep in the mine, he captured a photo of a man tipping a tire end over end so he could stand on it to reach the ceiling. When the man looked up, Arnold put his camera down and helped him lift the tire to the top of a stack.

Hours later, as Arnold was getting ready to leave, the man returned the favor. He made a motion for Arnold to follow. He led him to two other men and a metal ladder that disappeared upward into the darkness.

He began to count the steps. 30, 60, 120, 150, 197 total, all on one ladder.

But he hit a snag. His backpack got caught in the opening at the top. It was too big, filled with 35 pounds of ore samples, tools, $6,000 in cash, his passport and credit card.

It had to be left behind, in the hands of a man he had just met.

There's an unspoken code among those who venture into the Aholie mine. They leave each other alone, unless one of them is in trouble. "There is an honor and integrity among these people who go underground. They're all independent, but they all look out for each other," Arnold said.

It provided only little comfort as he climbed the ladder into the darkness. He carried the void of the missing backpack with him.

He was anxious. He pushed the backpack to the back of his mind and followed two people he had just met up through the bowels of a hot, steep mine shaft. He crawled across slippery rock, climbed a 65-rung ladder, and repeated the process two more times. "Believe it or not, I'm scared the whole time," he said.

When he made it to the top, his two companions turned with pride to show him what they had been working on. His nervousness subsided, and he pulled his camera from his pocket to document the feat. They had built a pulley system to transport sacks of ore and rock from the top of the shaft to the ground so they only had to make the trek up the ladders once a day.

Arnold took pictures, flattered that the men had included him. "They wanted to show me their work," he said.

As he looked around, the flashlight strapped to his head caught shimmers from the ore, which resembles a cinnamon swirl held in the calcite matrix of the rock. "It's actually very beautiful," he said.

After six hours underground, Arnold began to get antsy. The trio made the climb back down safely.

His backpack was there to greet him. "Sure enough, at the bottom of the long ladder where the real adventure began is the older guy sitting there with my backpack," Arnold said.

Relieved and tired, the four men started talking all at once. They couldn't understand each other's words because of the language barrier, but the excitement was mutual. They smiled, shook hands, and then it was time to go. "They pointed my way out, and away I went. Money intact, instruments intact, alive. When I came out, I felt like falling to my knees and kissing the earth. It was the culmination of four years of planning," he said.

Arnold excavates and buys fossil and mineral specimens, brings them back to the United States, conducts curatorial or preservation work on them and then keeps them or sells them at trade shows. He does it all while working full-time and teaching karate in his garage.

His latest trip to Morocco was four years in the making. After weeks of planning, preparation and saving money and vacation time, Arnold pulled off his dream trip in May. "Morocco is a fascinating country for geology," he said.

When he saw the edges of the Aholie mine for the first time, he knew he'd be back.

He was on his first geological adventure to the country on the tip of northwest Africa. He had chosen Morocco to try and carve out a niche for himself in the market of geological artifacts, a business he's been involved in since 1978.

The Aholie mine has been commercially abandoned for years, but it is still accessible. Although there was no formal entrance, every so often someone would crawl on his hands and knees and look inside the mine to try and glimpse the ore, minerals or fossils that remained in the rock.

Each year since that first trip to Morocco, Arnold returned to the mine. And each year, the mine's accessibility increased.

Fossils are a by-product of the phosphorus mining industry in Morocco, which makes the country a great place to dig.

The geology aficionado made up his mind. He was going to go into the underground mine and see what he could find. It's a risky feat, but it pays off if you're smart. And though Arnold is a risk-taker, he doesn't do anything without some planning.

Now, back in the United States, Arnold still gets a rush thinking about his latest adventure. "It turned out better than I had hoped because this guy couldn't flip the tire on his own," Arnold said.

He is waiting for all his samples to be sent to the United States. He expects them to arrive just in time for the Colorado Fossil and Mineral Expo.

Arnold has a self-built work station in his garage where he does his curatory work. Bright lights, dirt and tools surround jaw pieces of various Mosasaurus, a fierce predator from the Cretaceous period. He scrapes and sand blasts away the dirt, preserving the integrity of the fossil as best he can. "Generally, I like to have no restoration on my fossils, and that way there's a genuine aspect to it," he said.

Arnold prepares enough specimens to take to the trade show in Denver each year so he can pay for his next dig. For now, he stays busy with yearly digs. When he retires from his job at Campbell County Memorial Hospital, he wants to go into the fossil business full time.

Morocco street style: the sheltering street.

On a recent visit to Morocco I went looking for street style. How does Morocco compare to London?

Like many first time visitors to Morocco, I was sometimes overwhelmed by what I found on the street. The people of Morocco are friendly and welcoming but rather shy about being photographed.

Check more here:

A road trip out of the Atlas.
The Guardian
, Friday 14 June 2013

Five days, two walled cities, many mountains and the open road: Annabelle Thorpe takes a dazzling drive off the beaten track and into the Atlas in Morocco

High in the Atlas mountains my sister Caroline and I sat by the side of a gravelly road in the ramshackle village of Imlil. We had spent just one night there, watching the sun drift behind the peak of Mount Toubkal from the roof of our Berber guesthouse, Douar Samra, eating supper cross-legged around a big table, and retiring to our tiny stone room to find a fire in the grate.

One sunset, one dinner, one quick stroll around the village, and now we had to leave. Neither of us wanted to. I watched as a small boy ambled past, a few steps behind an elderly man, a gaggle of raggedy goats between them. I still wanted to be sitting on the road when they came back that afternoon, simply to watch the comings and goings of the village for a few hours. But the road was calling, just as it had done yesterday, when neither of us had wanted to leave Dar Ayniwen, a beautiful house in Marrakech's Palmeraie suburb, where we had lazed on the terrace and sipped gin and tonics as the call to prayer echoed through the dusk.

Funny things, road trips. In some ways they're the opposite of everything a holiday should be: abrupt entries and exits, one journey, then another, then another. Yet they can also be the best way to get under the skin of a country: a gradual collection of disparate experiences and locations that meld together to create a real sense of place. Our few days on the road offered exactly that: a night in Marrakech, some time in the mountains and a day's journey to the walled city of Taroudant on the southern side of the Atlas mountains. The trip was made easier by the motorway linking Marrakech to Agadir that opened in 2011, which knocked several hours off the journey time back from Taroudant.

On the recommendation of our tour operator, we had booked a driver rather than navigating ourselves. Normally I'm happy to get behind the wheel, but since a driver only costs an extra £20 a day – and offered the chance for me to take in the scenery – it seemed an attractive proposition. Added to that our route, over the 2,092m-high Tizi n'Test pass, is one of Morocco's most challenging roads, and best driven, I was advised, by someone who has done it before.

And so the three of us drove, regretfully, away from Imlil – Caroline in the back and me in the front with Moha, who regaled us with stories and history and answers to the endless questions we fired at him as the mountains rolled by. We headed south-west through the village of Ouirgane, where the tourist trail begins to melt away. I don't know what I'd expected of the Atlas, but it wasn't the pretty blossom-strewn villages that scattered the hillsides, the rusty-hued cubist cottages softened by haze, like something from an impressionist painting.

After a couple of hours we arrived in Tinmal, an unremarkable-looking village that is home to one of Morocco's most important historic sites. It's hard to believe now, but Tinmal was once the cradle of the Almohad empire, which ruled much of north-west Africa until the 13th century.

Its grand, 12th-century mosque has been subject to extensive (and quite blunt) restoration, yet an atmosphere still clings to the ancient brickwork. Inside, neat lines of stone pillars rise to soft Moorish arches, creating beautiful walkways. Most of the intricate stucco has been lost, but the small areas that remain give an idea of how beautiful the building must once have been.

There was no one at the mosque but us. No ticket booth or souvenir stalls. At the one (rickety-looking) shop and cafe a short walk away, the owner, Ahmed, invited us to browse the antique jewellery, while he disappeared behind a curtain to make us an omelette, stuffed with sweet peppers, onions and tomatoes. I could have happily sat on Ahmed's terrace for the rest of the afternoon, watching as the villagers returned from the market, clambered down from the roofs of vans, hefted sacks of wheat and flour. Groups of people slowly melted away into the lattice of alleyways that ran between the cottages.

But the road was calling again, Moha told us; the Tizi n'Test had to be driven in daylight – and not just to make the best of the views. It was not a road to be attempted in the dark. He wasn't overstating his case: I have never been on a road as spectacular. The map describes it as "dangerous and difficult", which is a fair description, but it's also one of the most exhilarating, overwhelmingly beautiful drives you will ever take.

From the moment we tipped over the peak and began our descent, the views were astonishing. The road followed the lines of the mountain with short, straight sections, then hairpin bends. And after every hairpin, a new view revealed itself: vast, cocoa-coloured mountains fading to a hazy blue, bisected by a thin grey road.

When we finally arrived on the plain and looked back, it seemed impossible we had actually crossed such gargantuan peaks.

Despite a long lunch at Tinmal, we had somehow timed our arrival at Taroudant perfectly. The sun was beginning to set, flooding the citrus orchards and olive groves with a flaming, gold light. I had expected desert and scrub, but instead hibiscus and bougainvillea billowed across rooftops, and orange trees dripping fruit lined the busy roads. Our first glimpse of Taroudant – its spectacular, 15th-century ramparts – didn't disappoint. It was supposedly the new Marrakech, I told Caroline, as we finally, gladly, climbed out of the car.

Next morning, it soon became clear why Taroudant could never rival Marrakech. There was no medina, no souks, no picturesque chaos. Inside the walls it's just a humdrum town, going about its business. Only in the evening, when we ventured out again, clipping through the busy streets on a horse-drawn calèche – which are still used by residents as well as tourists – did we begin to get more of a feel for the place. We bartered for almonds and olives in the market, where there wasn't another tourist to be seen, and sat on the ramparts, watching the sun fall away beyond the horizon. I looked down at the street, at the mopeds and horses and girls in brightly coloured jellabas, and thought back to sunset in Imlil, watching the boy and his goats, and before that to Dar Ayniwen, where the call to prayer had echoed through the half-light.

Two days later we headed back to Marrakech on the shiny new motorway. This was the opposite of the Tizi n'Test – quick, easy and bereft of any views, local colour or sights of interest. It got us where we were going – back to the frenetic streets of Marrakech – but after such as trip, that was hardly the point. The journey up through the Atlas had taken us past impromptu festivals, weekly markets, flocks of goats and a millennium of history. And it taught me something else. Sometimes, if you're lucky, the trip is the road itself.

Political Differences Threaten Moroccan Economy
By: Mohammad al-Sharqi Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab).

For two months, the Moroccan economy has been awaiting the outcome of the political crisis afflicting the governmental majority, which the Independence Party decided to withdraw from in response to how the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) reformed some of the social funds, such as the compensation and retirement funds, to reduce the fiscal deficit .

Politicians have bitterly disagreed on economic and social reforms. The PJD wishes to divert some of the money in the compensation fund toward the poor directly and stop the subsidies on consumer goods. The PJD’s allies in the government have reservations about that move because it raises prices, inflation, interest rates and unemployment — thus hurting the middle class and threatening social cohesion.

A delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) threatens to withdraw $6.2 billion in loan guarantees earmarked for Morocco if the Moroccan government doesn’t announce a schedule to reform the compensation fund, which will cost 50 billion dirhams ($6 billion) this year. The IMF, which will issue a report on Morocco next month, said that the financial situation and the overall economy were worsened by the government’s inability to stop the financial waste caused by political differences.

Rabat is facing a budget deficit of approximately 7.5% of GDP, and a deficit in the balance of foreign payments of more than $20 billion due to higher international market prices for raw materials, energy and food. Sources told Al-Hayat that if the IMF cancels its financial support, Morocco will greatly suffer in the international bond market. Over the past few months, Morocco has borrowed more than $2 billion that will be paid back over 30 years at very high interest rates (between 4% and 5%). The Moroccan economy needs to borrow $6 to $8 billion annually to finance some development projects and pay for some economic and social obligations.

Statistics show that, in the year’s first quarter, there was a drop in industrial production, construction, real estate projects and major works. Some observers blamed the drop on the weak private investments and the political differences over reform.

It seems that the political forces do not exclude the possibility of early elections if no solution is reached in the government. The PJD wants to gain the support of the poor by using the compensation fund for that purpose, while the PJD’s opponents want reform to be objective and economically sound.

The Moroccan High Commission for Planning did a study that it presented at Oxford University. The study found that the 5% economic growth over the past years reduced the overall poverty rate but harmed the middle class, increased the gap between rich and poor, and increased the sense of poverty in the most dynamic cities. The report added: “New material and cultural needs have emerged, such as the need for basic services, quality education, social welfare, labor, equality and equal opportunities ... Those are some of the demands that, if unmet, may be a source of frustration for the new generation.”

About 10% of the population lives below the poverty line. Statistics estimate that 30% of the population is economically insecure (which means that moving down the social ladder is more likely than moving up).

Studies warn that stopping the subsidies on strategic commodities, such as energy and domestic gas, may worsen social inequalities and push many in middle classes to below the poverty line, thus increasing the dangers of popular anger at a time when the Arab Spring’s repercussions are still ongoing.
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