When the Cat Is Away, Mice Play

When the Cat Is Away, Mice Play


[symple_box]Abderrahim EzraidiAbderrahim Ezraidi is a Moroccan English teacher. Abderrahim received his bachelor in English Linguistics from the university of Cadi Ayyad, Marrakesh. Abderrahim received as well the Cambridge Teaching Knowledge Test from the British Council, Casablanca. [/symple_box]

Despite the fact that the baccalaureate exams winded up few days ago, the controversy with cheating is still sparking debate and triggering exchanges in Morocco. This year, the Moroccan authorities instilled very strict administrative disciplinary measures in a bet to curb this scourge, including not allowing mobile phones or any electronic devices within the confines of examination centers thanks to equipping teachers with metal detectors. Nevertheless, and despite all the taken measures, mainstream Moroccans were taken aback by the number of cases of cheating reported by the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training. As a matter of fact, just in the first day of the baccalaureate exams, 120 instances of cheating were reported.

Before putting all the blame on the students, we should bear in mind that they are taught by a number of teachers who do not have a good grasp of what they teach. I am not legitimizing the act of cheating, but such a weakness in our educational system leads to serious repercussions, and the scourge of cheating is one of them.

Those teachers, selected after an arguably lengthy and thorough process, find it hard to pass the written examination. And because they strongly want to get employed to earn their daily bread, and especially taking into account that the examination takes place only one time a year, they themselves resort to cheating, especially given that teachers’ exams in Morocco are taken without surveillance.

After cheating themselves, few months later, as soon as they get employed, low and behold, the teachers start preaching about how bad cheating is, including giving lessons to students about this scourge’s reverberations on Morocco’s economy, mingled with talks about the concept of fair-chance at jobs. I personally believe that it is prime time to apply strict laws on prospective teachers’ examinations as well, if the government really believes in transparency and equal opportunities for all, otherwise they are just gilding the farthing.

The good news is that a barrage of criticism has been directed recently at teachers in this regard, especially given the growing understanding among mainstream Moroccans that teaching nowadays is no more a matter of filling the brains of students with knowledge; rather, the focus is on how to engage the students. Students look nowadays for a teacher who has the skills to grasp their attention, endear them to the subject at hand and whet their appetite to learn more. Effective teaching, which entails a good command of the relevant subject, is a major reason why students prefer one teacher to another.

Let’s take the case of English teachers as a concrete example. Honestly, a number of high school teachers are unable to write an error-free essay as they lack the basic understanding of English. Many still make punctuation mistakes, to say the least, as they cannot differentiate between some types of clauses and sentences.

Whenever students are asked about the hurdles they encounter when it comes to learning English as a foreign language, they often say, “We do not have good teachers.” In fact, when grammatical mistakes including pronunciation rules ones are featured in Moroccan English educational book, then it becomes clearer that there is a lot of truth in what the students say.

This illustrates us one thing clearly: Because Teachers cheated in luring their job, they teach their students wrong conceptions, meaning students are sadly the scapegoats in this flawed system.

As long as the flaws of our system are not addressed, the number of non-competent teachers will constantly be on the rise, systematically leading to a surge in the number of students who cheat in exams.