For several months or even years, there has been a discussion about the Moroccan university (its role, its structures, the laws it governs, the status of teachers and students, the aims and content of teaching and training, etc.) and its possible reform. Regular articles and reports from various fields contribute to this discussion. Rare are the books that dare to capture all the tangled threads of the weft that make up this institution with decisive bets. Mortgage on a Moroccan university In a critical and civic approach, Mustafu Bencheikh compiles an uncompromising diagnosis and proposes several solutions, sometimes radical. Diagnosis and solutions to be decided.
“We are not bringing the university to justice”
Mr Bencheikh Mortgage on a Moroccan universityp. 30
What can the university do?
The University of Morocco is dying. This is a finding in Mortgage on a Moroccan university Retired Mustapha Bencheikh, former dean and professor of literature. Suffice it to say that this book, published by Okad in 2021 (but hardly distributed this month), is a reflexive, even self-critical sum of more than 35 years of learning and responsibility. The following is another diagnostic work: The University of Morocco was tested , released 17 years ago.
All aspects of “university life” are scrutinized for thorough analysis: texts of laws, statutes and activities of the main stakeholders (professors, officials and students), subsequent reforms, internal and external projects and dictations. At the end of the analysis, the only deduction: the university presents itself as a huge theater where simulacrum serves as pragmatism and where approximation (periodically responding to internal or external needs) serves as a “method”.
At the beginning of the twenty chapters, on which the analysis-reasoning spreads, the author places this insidious “cold blow”, which subtly persecutes all the themes of the book and all aspects of the university and its story. The book is also the history of the last three decades of a Moroccan university.
To the question that opens the book: “Where is our university heading?” »The answer is clearer at the end of the book: it leads to its disappearance, to burial, and more precisely to the disappearance-burial of its spirit from methodical and free reflection, the creation of values. Among my causes of this slow crush are several main ones: the commodification of knowledge that is gradually taking place, the disengagement of the state (but also the main actors: teachers) and the absence of a real social project, which must be the basis of every university project; hence those infinite approximations!
There are many aspects of this long agony, the reasons and consequences of this multiple detachment and these gradual approaches; we supply them without an order to mimic the tangle of threads that make up the problematic-university:
– the unresolved dilemma between general disciplinary training and specialized and vocational training aimed at meeting specific market requirements; “University and employment” is a real problem that needs to be reconsidered in the light of national and planetary transformations at several levels; study (Chapter 18) of the laws governing the university, failure rates at Moroccan universities, low integration of graduates into the socio-economic structure, disqualification of national diplomas points to errors that can be remedied through specific solutions;
– Governance of public institutions, including the university, according to laws that leave large vacancies from which university deans and presidents benefit;
– disproportions in the powers of university presidents in such a way that the institutions that depend on them and their councils are reduced to ’empty shells’; thus introducing “vertical and authoritarian governance”;
– the very procedure for selecting these officials is wrong: starting with the project review committee and selecting the three candidates to be nominated;
– cevetitis of senior officials and then of the researchers themselves (“cevetitis” is a disease that consists in compulsorily filling in the CV of anything and anything);
– voluntary slavery of careerists of “friends or villains”;
– replacement of knowledge by presentation of knowledge;
– sale of diplomas: licenses, master’s, doctoral and even habilitations
– the system for evaluating the work of a teacher-researcher in terms of possible promotion has its shortcomings: the quota rule, the evaluation criteria, which sometimes have nothing to do with merit; to this must be added a solution at central level (and in negotiations with the trade union) with some files that distort the criteria and create hostility between several categories and subcategories of research teachers;
– the problem of orientation of students from the qualification cycle: or “orientation is a separate profession”
– the absence of students justified by a method of registration which precludes their wishes and does not take account of their skills; demotivation, a sense of helplessness in the face of classes that sometimes lack clarity and content, and teachers who are equally demotivated and lack pedagogy and sometimes ethics
– the minimum space occupied by the research within the university and the (simulakram) grants awarded to it;
– methodological denigration of letters and the humanities by classifying them as “useless”; the impoverishment that forces researchers, often in good faith, to prove their usefulness by improvising vocational training courses that “are more subject to the imaging policy than, strictly speaking, a clear and strict vision of the education offered” (p. 75); in addition, the author reserves the entire 15th chapter on “radiography of written faculties”: after listing the dysfunctions, he puts forward a series of concrete proposals to reconsider these vital studies; more globally, the penultimate chapter entitled ‘Rethinking the university’ is reserved for a proposal on the quality of higher education: the quality of teachers, the quality of students and the quality of management; it is ideal to find a “university that thinks”;
– the issue of free education linked to the question of its quality: an insurmountable dilemma?
– the troubling concept of the university: the “walking spirit that replaces knowledge” (p. 92) and which establishes a new discourse in support of the university business: politicians, senior officials (ministers and university presidents) and some teacher-researchers involved in acting and speaking as managers (or rather “managers” -sic-), who now think only of money and national and international visibility; consequence of this concept: escalation of the mid-term and end-of-accreditation mandates with reports and questionnaires to be submitted to audit firms whose services are very expensive and sometimes include more important budgets than those dedicated to research !! Thus, “banking pedagogy” prevailed, ignoring the idea: “Money has become the compass of our experts” (p. 176); The “cultural profession” of a university must do without such a presentation of “managerial” (sic) efficiency and commodification of knowledge;
– the dictatorship of the international evaluation of universities according to purely quantitative criteria based on an unrecognized neoliberal ideological criterion; criteria that affect course accreditation methods and teacher scoreboards;
– the “didactism” that has invaded Moroccan universities since we started talking about university pedagogy (1990s) and which integrates teacher evaluation and teaching; hollow didactism reduced to “jargon” without affecting the act of learning itself, and thus also who produces this discourse;
– the dictates of all evaluation (which favored the appearance of fashion for expertise and unlikely professionals) and whose spirit deepens the unrest of the Moroccan university by strengthening mediocrity and complacency;
– the master’s degree, which is intended to be a strong link between general licensing and doctoral research, includes the components of their failure from conception to application: student selection, often poorly designed lessons, teachers trapped in licensing courses and ‘management’; finally, sometimes courtesy and familyhood in favor of certain “students” of another rank;
– the painful issue of the language of instruction in Morocco remains relevant: the history of the many reforms carried out to resolve it shows the failure of the solutions on offer; in any case, the issue must be resolved from primary school and with appropriate teaching and teachers with the appropriate skills;
– The entry of a private university into this area (as a logical outcome of a process that began with a private primary school, a secondary school and then a secondary school) is a significant sign of the failure and degradation of public education in Morocco: what are we looking for? Perfection and seriousness; but can we find them? The whole of Chapter 17 sets out a serious diagnosis of this commodification.
What can literature do?
“Wedding literature and some politics they have always been militant and our society is not ready to deviate from the rule. The university is at the center of a struggle for its head by pressure groups subordinate to the capital. The long space of freedom, audacity and the search for truth will succumb to repeated and vehement attacks by economic orthodoxy, which has turned profitability into an absolute dogma.
Mr Bencheikh Mortgage on a Moroccan university, with. 186
“Beauty will save the world,” Dostoevsky
The last chapter of the book deserves to be stopped and re-read. I will stop because it is the right defense of literature on the world, where the useful, the profitable and the monetizable are forcing their dictatorship.
What can the teaching of literature in the era of globalization, the College of Engineering and Employment, ie the University of Science and Technology?
“Should we professionalize the teaching of literature? »
It is true that literature has been associated with “long and useless dreaming” since the beginning of this millennium, because “the technician has replaced the philosopher”: there is no longer room for doubt, meditation, the ability to understand and analyze; there is no room for criticism and self-criticism.
It is also true that this state of mind was able to give a bad conscience to language and literature teachers who themselves contributed to the defeat of literature or at least to the threat to its special position.
Despite its discredit, the literature for the author remains “an anti-power, which is not only useful but also necessary for our neoliberal shift.” This is true, although literature may not “give food”, it can help maintain a living conscience through its futility. Conscious heart.
Published by OKAD, Rabat, 2004. After a year of implementing the LMD reform, the author sifted through the strengths of the reform, but outlined the lines of the new inevitable failure between the lines.