Hassan Moudaine, an English teacher in Morocco, recently answered questions about the non-violent teacher strike in his country. When the strikers demonstrate on the streets, they chant “Freedom, Dignity, and Social Justice,” which are universal human rights. The government response is to send in police to disperse the strikers by beating them and knocking them down with water cannon. The strike has gone on since March 3. The government has not yielded.
Contract teachers are typically young, are hired on short-term contracts, stay at the same low pay grade they attained when hired, and have no pension and health care benefits. Scale 9 is the pay scale that they are on for years They want to advance to at least scale 10 and to have regular upgrades like non-contract teachers who also have pension and health care benefits.
- How does being a contract teacher affect your quality of life?
It is really difficult to be a contractual teacher here in Morocco where everyone does not respect you and think you are third degree teacher, we experience this maltreatment from headmasters, principals, senior teachers, students, and society. This situation affects our life psychologically and financially in the sense that we feel stressed every time we come to classes to teach children and young learners which impacts our performance badly. Speaking financially, even though we do our best to enlighten our dear students, we are always afraid of being fired for no reason, the only reason is we are contractual. A lot of contractual teachers cannot be equal to fellow senior teachers, cannot get loans, cannot establish a family, cannot have the right of national movement across the country.
- How does being a contractual teacher affect your sense of dignity, worth, and freedom of choice?
The freedom of choice was taken from us the first day the government imposed on these creative, talented teachers contracts of slavery which chained teachers’ ambition and motivation to serve the students who most of them come from low-class or underprivileged families. We contractual teachers are treated terribly from some people in the field of education in Morocco, because our only sin is contractualism which does not guarantee any right possible a teacher can have. Contractual teachers feel inferior when they are in school and the street; they live under pressure all the time because they are worthless in the eyes of government, education secretary, and society. We were left with no choice unemployment or contracts of slavery.
- Do you experience yourself as someone who wants to teach and feels alive when teaching?
Teaching was my dream since I was at middle school, because I was inspired by my sport teacher who helped and guided me a lot. I feel so happy when I am going to school, when I am in school I feel alive, I feel I am home; I always belive school is where I belong. Being in the classroom drives me to give all I have; to do the best I can. I only want to teach and inspire children and teenagers. I teach values, principles, and motivation so that they can be confident, creative, passionate, and leaders of the future who will make a difference in the society.
- Do you have stories to tell about your experience of teaching?
Contractual teachers sacrifice their money and time for teaching students for example, I created an English club at my high school where I volunteer when I am not working in which I organize reading sessions, creative writing, spelling bee, public speaking, and many other activities because I love being among students to develop their skills. Actually I helped and guided students who wanted to drop out to come back to school, I have also encountered lots of students who were in difficult circumstances to focus on their studies so that they can be good citizens.
- What is your experience and the experiences of others regarding the government’s response to your strikes and advocacy?
We teachers who are forced to be contractual belong to one and only body which is the National Coordination of Teachers who are forced to be contractual, we believe that our strikes and sit ins should be reacted by solving this problem not violence like what happened against us in the peaceful march on 20thFebruary 2019, this is not the way the government should take with teachers who normally should be in classes teaching the leaders of tomorrow. Our strikes, boycott, and sit ins are ongoing until we get what we want. These contractual teachers want only integration in the public service so that they can have professional stability and social security.
- What do you think are the reasons for the policies that create contractual teaching?
The government wants to get rid of free education, public school, and public hiring. The government does not want to spend more budget on education, even though it has launched many reforms which cost millions of dollars nothing changed the situation is getting worse every year. If the public school is sacked, Moroccans will not find any school for their kids. These families cannot afford to send their kids to any private school, if it is the case these kids will turn into criminals and gangsters so we are the only defenders of these rights, we are the only hope of the Moroccan people to save free education and public school.
- Who benefits from the current policies?
The government has a plan with the world bank to reduce the number of teachers in exchange of more loans. Consequently, they can easily sell the Moroccan school to private lobby in Morocco, this lobby is growing dramatically in the country; they want to make education a commodity. private school owners are the only one who benefits from these wrecking policies, because they take advantage of the situation to attract more families.
- Are the teachers who are striking following principles of non-violence? If so? What are the principles?
We teachers, under the guidance of our national coordination of teachers who are forced to be contractual, believe in peace, dialogue, communication, and ethics. We use respectful chants to send messages to the governments to solve this problem which is integration in the public service. We always guide teachers to behave themselves when we are in a march. Also we respect the environment and animals during our protests. We don’t harm security forces nor people nor properties.
My Final Thoughts
The striking teachers in Morocco are showing the world how to respond to injustice. They will persist because they believe in dignity, worth, and human freedom not only for themselves, but for students, and for the common welfare. Jane Gilgun