Fès-Meknès region prepares to become education leader

Morocco’s Fès-Meknès region, home to five universities and many specialised colleges, is aiming to become a leader in higher education and research, expanding the number of faculties, attracting more Moroccan and foreign students, and signing partnerships with other institutions.

The region educates 20% of the country’s student body, numbering thousands of Moroccan and international students, and includes the universities of Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah (USMBA), Euro-Méditerranéenne or Euromed University of Fès (UEMF) and Al Quaraouiyine in Fès; Moulay Ismail (UMI) in Meknès; and Al Akhawayne (AUI) in Ifrane, reported MAP, the Agence Marocaine de Presse.

It is also the location of more than 260 vocational and specialised engineering colleges, as well as the new Cité des Métiers et des Compétences (City of Trades and Skills) in Fès which will offer 2,900 highly qualified teaching posts from the 2022-23 academic year.

About 10 partnership agreements have been finalised in recent months for the opening of new faculties and university centres, as well as for strengthening digitisation research and innovation at USMBA, UMI and UEMF to consolidate institutions’ scientific and academic influence in the region, reported MAP.

The aim of the higher education ministry was for each province in the region to accommodate a university and give as many people as possible the opportunity to follow a higher education in all disciplines, from science, technology and financial management to sports and innovation, reported MAP.

Intervention was urgent

The expanded provision, funded by the ministry and the regional council, would also relieve overcrowding at Fès and Meknès.

Projects include expansion of multidisciplinary colleges in Taza and in Taounate, at a cost of MAD100 million (US$11.34 million) each, a sports faculty in Ifrane (MAD60 million); construction of university facilities at Boulemane, associated with USMBA (MAD50 million); and a university centre at Ain Cheggag (MAD300 million).

Also planned are works at the university centre at Agdal in Fès, a university library run by UMI and two other Meknès higher education institutions, a faculty of science and technology in Sefrou, a regional incubator at UEMF, and support for digital research and innovation throughout the region.

At a webinar for regional academics on ‘A higher education inventory and future prospects’ held at USMBA in early May, the Minister of Education, Saaid Amzazi, stressed the crucial role of the universities in training leaders and teaching skills, and said there were many challenges facing them.

“An urgent intervention is necessary to strengthen the universities’ role so they can guarantee their leadership mission at the heart of society and become more involved in the economy,” MAP reported him as saying.

He said it was vital to revise educational programmes and processes to deal with digital and Industry 4.0 challenges. A new bachelor system would aim to tackle the problem of university dropout, and course guidance and foreign language teaching would be revised.

Amzazi said the budget of MAD2 billion for university grants for 415,000 students would give priority to those in the provinces where conditions were more difficult. — Compiled by Jane Marshall.

This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.