Moroccan academics have organized protests against a draft law that would give the Ministry of Higher Education powers to control public university lecturers’ wages, benefits and privileges, and to intervene in their teaching and research.
“The new draft law establishes a contracting system to regulate the relationship between professors and their university, subjecting it to the logic of the market and privatization in a way that undermines the principle of academic freedom and the independence of scholars,” said Jaouad Rabaa, a member of the National Office for the independent Karama (“Dignity”) Coordination of Research Professors, in a phone call.
Rabaa, a professor of political science and constitutional law at the University of Ibn Zohr in Agadir, explained that the draft law granted “supreme” authority to the university’s administrative body and the ministry to control teachers’ financial benefits and work privileges.
Academics would be “employed under the tutelage of the university president, who is neither elected nor accountable to the University Council,” he said.
The bill also grants the Ministry of Higher Education powers to amend the curricula and intervene in research professors’ work, says Rabaa.
He said curriculum design is the “exclusive” competence of the teacher, and warned that if it became law, the bill would limit academic freedom.
The bill would also make the relationship between teachers and universities a contract for a period of up to one year, subject to renewal. Academic promotions would no longer be decided by a committee chosen by the heads of university institutions but by the ministry.
No Response to Professors’ Protests
The Ministry of Higher Education has not yet made any official reply to the teachers’ protests, which have included several vigils outside the ministry. Previous ministerial statements have said the aim of the bill was to improve teachers’ financial conditions.
The Karama Coordination, in a statement made available to Al-Fanar Media, declared its “complete” rejection of the bill. It called for a “just and stimulating” system that achieves a real increase in the wages of academics, and motivates them to play positive roles within the higher education and scientific research.