Morocco’s academic unions are calling for the speedy issuance of a new draft statute for research professors in higher education institutions by the end of September, but other parties involved in the process are still debating the professors’ demands and the promises made in the draft legislation.
Updating the statute governing the hiring, promotion, and terms of employment of Moroccan professors is an old demand of the university research community’s unions. The statute in place now is 25 years old.
Provisions in the New Statute
Al-Fanar Media has seen the draft of the new statute, which is divided into three parts: general provisions, regulations regarding researchers, and special and transitional provisions.
Article Two defines the faculty-research team as including full professors, “authorized” professors, and assistant professors. Universities and higher education institutions may seek the assistance of associate and visiting professors under certain conditions.
Article Three stipulates that the tasks of research faculty members include teaching, research and mentoring activities in the institutions to which they are affiliated. It states that research professors may not teach or conduct research outside their institutions unless they have written permission from the university president and the activity is for a specific period. They may not practice any private, profitable activity in a professional capacity.
“The ball is now in the government’s court. The syndicate has played its role for years, by organising consultative meetings and reaching agreements with successive higher education ministers.”Jamal Sebbani, General secretary of the National Syndicate for Higher Education and Scientific Research
The new draft’s fourth article sets out about 20 tasks to be undertaken by research professors, including lecturing and other teaching activities, training students either in person or by distance education, assessing students and guarding academic integrity, conducting research, as well as producing educational curricula, literature, and content.
Article Five says professors’ teaching hours range from 8 to 14 hours a week, depending on the professor’s rank.
The draft law further stipulates that new professors must not be over 45 years old when starting employment unless they are government employees. Successful candidates have traditionally been accepted after a national competition amongst those with a doctorate and more than ten years’ experience in research or teaching.
Numerous other provisions deal with promotions within each rank, or from one rank to a higher one.
Between the Syndicate and the Ministry
Jamal Sebbani, general secretary of the National Syndicate for Higher Education and Scientific Research, told Al-Fanar Media that the issuance of a new statute by the end of September was an urgent demand, something the syndicate has been seeking for years. He accused the ministry of procrastinating.
“The current statute is unfair, especially its way of hiring new professors,” Sebbani said. “The ball is now in the government’s court. The syndicate has played its role for years, by organising consultative meetings and reaching agreements with successive higher education ministers. This culminated in an agreement with the current ministry on the draft statute for research professors.”
“We call for a more democratic university system that implements the principles of transparency and accountability, fights against anti-reform lobbies on Moroccan campuses, and giving educational reform the utmost importance.”Abderrahim Anbi, Professor at Ibn Zohr University’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities
While Sebbani says that the syndicate hopes that the ministry will adhere to the agreement, the Moroccan minister of higher education, Abdellatif Miraoui, has said in previous statements that the technical teams working on the new draft statute are in the last stages. He expected the project to be ready at the end of the year after being approved by the Moroccan government.
Miraoui has said that the new project aims to provide a path for professional advancement following quality standards that should make a university professor’s job more attractive to the best talent, including Moroccan academics living abroad.
He also thought the new statute set a fair employment policy for professors based on their ability to complete professional training tasks and scientific research to international standards, in a way that increased the universities’ ability to meet the increasing demand for education.
What Do Teachers Want?
Abdulrahim Anbi, a professor at Ibn Zohr University’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities, said professors expected the new statute to “highly” improve their social and working conditions.
“The consultations that preceded the project excluded a broad group of professors,” he told Al-Fanar Media. “We call for a more democratic university system that implements the principles of transparency and accountability, fights against anti-reform lobbies on Moroccan campuses, and giving educational reform the utmost importance.”
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Anbi believes that the new statute should respect individuals’ rights, attract talent, review the options regarding the language of instruction, and give clear legal definitions of the tasks assigned to researchers to avoid “administrative corruption or the denial of responsibility.”
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