Strikes and boycott threats, the start of the academic year promises to be hot

VSwhich was announced: The Moroccan higher education union (SMASup, close to the PJD, editor’s note) called for a one-week strike, between September 19 and 25, calling it “boycott of the 2022-2023 academic year”. In a press conference organized this Tuesday, September 20, precisely on the occasion of the start of the academic year, the Minister of Higher Education Abdellatif Miraoui however affirmed that the universities did not report any boycott.

Was there a boycott? According to the union, 85% of its members responded positively to the strike call, a figure questioned by the minister in charge: “no Moroccan university has reported a problem at this level”he told As is. Perhaps because SMASup teachers constitute a minority among the entire teaching body of Morocco’s public universities.

The teaching staff is in fact shared between two independent unions (affiliated to no central union), the most representative of which is the National Union of Higher Education (SNESup), which did not support the appeal of its counterpart. from SMASup to boycott. Consequently, the majority of universities have resumed under normal conditions, while some others, with more SMASup members, have recorded many more absences among their teachers.

What are the teachers asking? The two organizations have the same demands, but do not give them the same importance. Thus, for the SMASup, the increase in wages “frozen for almost 25 years” is at the top of the list. But the SNESup places the revision of the fundamental statute of higher education at the forefront, the last modification of this statute going back to about twenty years. On the other hand, the two unions are unanimous on the need to improve working conditions within the Moroccan public university.

What was said about it: denouncing the “ministry procrastination”Noureddine El Mtili, a regional head of SMASup in Tangier-Tetouan-Al-Hoceima, welcomes the rate of support for the strike, and criticizes the “weaknesses of the public university”. “Understaffing is glaring, especially in open-access faculties. Some levels have more than 3,000 students enrolled each year. This situation has a serious impact on the quality of teaching and the psychological state of the professor, who is also supposed to focus on academic research”regrets to As is this teacher at Abdelmalek Essaâdi University.

The SNESup trade unionists, if they share these demands, prefer consultation. Thus, Professor Miloud Belkadi respects the choice to resort to a boycott but favors “flexibility”. “At SNESup, we seek to find appropriate solutions to the socio-economic situation of the country. It is in no one’s interest to start the year with a strike by a body which has more than 14,000 professors.he tells us.

However, this official does not exclude the possibility that the SNESup will follow in the footsteps of the SMASup: “if we don’t get any feedback from the government concerning our claim file, the boycott will therefore be imposed as the last means of pressure”.

The minister responds: Regarding the claims related to the lack of human resources, the ministry’s response was quick. On Tuesday, Minister Abdellatif Miraoui thus announced during his press conference the creation of 2,350 budget posts, including 760 professors specializing in education and medicine and 1,600 educational and administrative supervisors.

With regard to the revision of the fundamental statute of higher education and the increase in salaries, the minister wants to be reassuring. “The revision of the fundamental statute is a priority for the ministry and it is part of our project to reform the system” he tells us. And to add: “The most important thing is to ensure the attractiveness of the profession”.

To know more : Pointed out because of the many weaknesses of the public university, the Ministry of Higher Education finds itself obliged to solve problems related to the integration of students, in particular those back from Ukraineas well as putting an end to the disorderly situation that the sector is experiencing, by launching the long-awaited reform. To do this, Abdellatif Miraoui offers everything a new model of the Moroccan university.

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