Morocco is trying to use a national database to comprehensively track its education and national research system.
Less than two years ago, the “Integrated Information System for Education and Training and Scientific Research” was started. It collects and analyzes data available on an intranet, or internal network, of the Supreme Education Council, which supports the project.
Abdellatif El Moudni, secretary general of Morocco’s Advisory Council on Higher Education, in Morocco, said that the system will collect a wide variety of information related to school education, higher education, scientific research and vocational training. Then the system will analyze the information and provide indicators to the Advisory Council to assist it in planning and development.
The data being collected includes the numbers of students, all those who work at schools, universities and other educational institutions, indicators of the national education budget, measures of scientific research and training, and measures of educational infrastructure, including the number of institutions and the available equipment. The project is also tracking illiteracy rates and indicators of quality in educational institutions. “This project is an observatory of all educational information,” said El Moudni.
Among the other data that it collects, the project will track activity at the country’s 15 public universities and many private ones. The total number of students enrolled in 2009-2010 was 306,595 according to official statistics. Morocco has had a rising education budget and increasing school and university enrollment. But as in many other Arab countries, universities are struggling to keep pace with new technology and job market needs.
Morocco had an average 5 percent growth rate from 2000 to 2010 and is the fifth largest African economy. But a 2009 World Bank report ranks Morocco as being among the worst Arab countries in terms of education, rating the level of illiteracy among adults as being high and the education facilities as poor. Fifty-six percent of Moroccans 15 years old and above are illiterate, according to the World Bank.
The project will eventually allow Morocco to exchange information with other Arab educational systems. “Researchers and academics can, wherever they are, contact the SEC through our electronic gate (www.cse.ma) to provide them with the available information,” said El Moudni, pointing out that the work is underway to open the service to the public via the internet in the coming months.
The new project, funded by the Supreme Education Council, will also provide information to local partner universities and education institutes. The council collaborates with partners from Moroccan universities, both public and private; international organizations such as UNESCO, and some foreign partners, such as the British Council. El Moudni says the project has its challenges such as trying to standardize definitions for shared data and trying to convince institutions to collect the data. “We are working to have one reliable source of information,” said El Moudni, a source of information that he said should help in using education resources more effectively.
The project aims to expand regionally in the near future to collect data about other Arab educational systems to make comparative studies possible. Moreover, the project is trying to find other systems that it might learn from. “We always welcome cooperation and want to widen our scope in everything related to this,” Moudni said.