Boosting value education to halt trust decline – Report

The Moroccan university is witnessing value and trust erosion, according to a national field study titled ‘Institutional Values and their Implementation: Moroccan changes and expectations’, prepared by the Moroccan Parliamentary Center for Research and Studies and presented in the House of Representatives on 8 February 2023.

Presenting the study at a colloquium, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rachid Talbi El Alami, indicated that this national sociological study focuses on, among others, the role of schools and universities in raising future citizens. It is the first study of its kind.

El Alami said the study is a cornerstone that they want to use as a reference for academic institutions to construct and develop knowledge in a way that serves national goals and values. He pointed out that the study is also a bridge for interaction between Moroccans and decision-making bodies, foremost the House of Representatives.

Reasons for value erosion in universities

The study showed that the Moroccan University, once an institutional example in values and morals of different intellectual backgrounds, is the contrary today, with frequent cases of clientelism and bribery.

The study also indicated that Moroccan universities face several educational, administrative and moral challenges that hinder their performance as “value builders”.

It pointed out that several cases of sexual harassment have rocked Moroccan universities in what is called ‘sex for marks’ scandals as well as the selling of certificates and seats in ‘masters-for-money’ scandals.

The parliamentary study is supported by a recent report by the Court of Auditors which indicated noted universities accused of diploma trafficking along with [a lack of] financial accountability and integrity.

In addition, the Public Prosecution Office of the Supreme Court of Accounts (SCA) decided to investigate six officials of Hassan I University in Settat – two former presidents and four former and current deans and directors of faculties and schools – due to evidence that they had committed violations in the financial management of the university, according to a statement issued by SCA on 16 January 2023.

Furthermore, the Criminal Chamber in charge of financial crimes at the Rabat Court issued prison sentences against officials of the Abdelmalek Essaadi University in Tangier for fraud in the university’s employment competition according to a local media report posted on 2 February 2023 on the Facebook page of the National Authority for the Protection of Public Funds and Transparency in Morocco.

The study attributed the reason for the change in the values of the Moroccan university to two basic values related to the values of listening and communication, noting that the responsibility for this is shared by the university community which contributes to, or refrains from addressing such imbalances.

Universities’ role in value education

The study urged that the university must act as a “safety valve for values” to help students carry out social, moral, and democratic obligations. It also said that universities as independent institutions must focus on producing citizens capable of analysing, comprehending, criticising and processing both traditional and modern universal values and cultures.

The study noted that universities must implement the values of citizenship, acceptance of differences, coexistence, tolerance, rejection of violence, solidarity, participation, freedom of expression, responsibility, good governance and collective work.

Value education for achieving SDGs

Abdellah Benahnia, a part-time international researcher and professor at the Superior Institutions of Science and Technology, an associate college of Cardiff Metropolitan University in Casablanca, told University World News that, “parliament’s study is a wake-up call for universities and higher education institutions to promote knowledge of values within its community and society to contribute in achieving Sustainable Development Goals”.

“I believe that making people aware of their values could be a good initiative if it is geared towards a good design and implementation of well-structured awareness programmes for the sake of employees, including those at university,” Benahnia said.

“Such programmes could help promote greater collaboration between the government and universities and facilitate the development and implementation of policies and programmes that support the needs and aspirations of workers in higher education.”

Benahnia noted that it is important that the programmes are established with the input and involvement of all stakeholders and that their goals and objectives are clearly defined and aligned with the needs of the sector.

“Perhaps the integration of business ethics and communication programmes in the university curriculum may play a positive role in making the future generation aware of their values at work and within their community,” Benahnia said.