During the Protectorate, the French attempted to administer a reform of the Qarawiyin mosque university in Fez, the traditional educational institution.
This strategy met resistance.
In French Morocco, colonial education served as a tool to transmit ideas of republicanism, liberalism and socialism, but it also deliberately promoted an essentialist and anti-liberal discourse of cultural separation.
The methods of traditional Moroccan teachers, or fqih, were considered too primitive. The new reforms included three to five hours of French for every hour of Arabic. College directors were warned against giving students too much knowledge, or too much of a taste for analysis. Class segregation was to be ensured by charging tuition fees at elite schools. Students were to learn French as a second language, for use as an 'instrument,' and were to acquire an 'exact and complete' understanding of French civilization, but they were not to be immersed in French, since they were not to become part of French civilization themselves.
A divide and conquer policy ensued with the "Berber Dahir" of 1930, which declared that all serious criminal cases would now fall under the jurisdiction, not of Berber tribunals, but instead of French courts.
A Berber/Arab division resulted, with marginalization of Amazigh language. This protected the traditional elites upon whose collaboration the French depended.
After independence, education was made compulsory for all Moroccan children between the ages of 6 through 13 in 1963.
During this time all subjects were Arabized in the first and second grades, while French was maintained as the language of instruction of math and science in both primary and secondary levels.
Later, to meet the rising demand for secondary education in the 1970s, Morocco imported French speaking teachers from countries such as France, Romania, and Bulgaria to teach math and sciences, and Arab teachers to teach humanities and social studies. by 1989, Arabization of all subjects across all grades was accomplished. However, French was maintained as the medium of instruction for scientific subjects in technical and professional secondary schools, technical institutes and universities.
Many civilizations have influenced Morocco and contributed to its linguistic and cultural diversity to produce what is today a complex, multilingual profile.
Two native languages, Berber and Arabic, plus French, are predominant. Tamazight covers a number of widely different dialects which are not entirely mutually comprehensible.
Arabic was introduced to Morocco in the seventh century. Two varieties of Arabic are used, as in other Arab countries - Classical Arabic or its modern version, Standard Arabic, and Moroccan Arabic. Spanish also once played an important role in northern Morocco throughout the Spanish occupation, though it is now only marginally used.
Other languages, such as English and German are more commonly taught as foreign languages in the public and private schools. English language skills are seen as highly desirable in terms of future career opportunity.
The education system offers the following tracks:
1) the Modern track, which is the continuation of the French system
2) Original track, which focuses on Koranic teachings
3) The technical track, designed to produce a skilled workforce
After nine years of basic education, students begin upper secondary school and take:
*a one-year common core curriculum, which is either arts or science
*First year students take arts and or science, mathematics or "original" education
*Second year students take earth and life sciences, physics, agricultural science, technical studies or A/B mathematics track.
The country has fourteen major public universities, in addition to a large number of private universities. Admission to public universities requires only a baccalareat, whereas admission to other higher public education, such as engineering school requires high marks on competitive special tests as well as special training before the exams.
1999-2009 was considered "The Education Decade," wherein the government undertook several reforms to improve the access of education and to reduce regional differences in the provision of education.
The success of these reforms is debatable. For example, one may find computer labs with locks on the door. Resistance to change is an issue there, just as it is in the U.S.