Education Minister Sparks Controversy on Day 1 of Morocco’s Academic Year

Education Minister Sparks Controversy on Day 1 of Morocco’s Academic Year. Photo: Facebook

Rabat – Minister of Education Saaid Amzazi sparked controversy after his statement today, vowing legal measures against people involved in sharing photos of a crowded classroom, allegedly taken during the first day of school in Morocco.

The photo that is now viral on social networks shows some students wearing masks, while others put them on their chins.

The photo also shows school tables pushed together, with three students at one table.

The image also shows well over 20 students in the classroom. The number contradicts the recommendations of the Ministry of Health and local authorities to limit the spread of the pandemic.

Morocco World News could not verify the veracity of the photo that prompted the controversy, but the education minister vowed to open an investigation. The inquiry seeks to verify the legitimacy of the photo and to identify the location of the school it depicts.

If the government verifies the photo is from today, the minister vowed legal action against the persons who “photographed the students in this position and endangered their lives.”

“A person published a picture showing pupils in crowded classrooms without any respect and commitment to the preventive measures stipulated in health protocol at the level of all educational institutions,” he said.

توضيحعمد شخص إلى نشر صورة تظهر تكديسا للتلاميذ داخل أحد الأقسام الدراسية دون أياحترام والتزام بالتدابير الوقائية التي…

Posted by ‎Saaïd Amzazi سعيد أمزازي‎ on Monday, September 7, 2020

He added that all regional academies are now attempting to verify the veracity of the photo.

The statement sparked controversy and outrage among many in Morocco, who shared angry and sarcastic comments on both the Facebook page of the education minister and their own pages.

Activist Asmae Kabba shared the photo with a sarcastic caption in the Moroccan dialect (Darija).

قالكم السيد امزيزاي : ستقوم الوزارة باتخاذ الاجراءات اللازمة في حق الشخص أو الاشخاص الذين قاموا بتصوير التلاميذ في هذه الوضعية وتعريض حياتهم للخطر.🙄🤔😏

Posted by Asmae Kabba on Monday, September 7, 2020

“Amzazi told you that the ministry will take measures against the person and the people that took the photo of the students and endangered their lives,” she wrote, intimating that the situation, rather than its capture on camera, was the real danger.

Several others shared the photo with the same caption, suggesting that the minister should rather direct legal action towards the lack of respect for preventive measures if the investigation confirms the veracity of the image.

‘Additional’ clarification

A few hours after his initial Facebook post on the matter, the education minister said in an “additional clarification” that his ministry will take action against the individuals responsible for the unsafe conditions.

“The Ministry will take the necessary measures against the person or persons who have put students in a crowded classroom,” he said.

Amzazi pointed to the “complete absence of respecting the preventive measures stipulated in the activated health protocol at the level of all educational institutions,” further mentioning that the potential violation would endanger lives.

توضيح إضافي بخصوص صورة القسم المكتظ المتداولة على مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي :ستقوم الوزارة باتخاذ الاجراءات اللازمة في حق…

Posted by ‎Saaïd Amzazi سعيد أمزازي‎ on Monday, September 7, 2020

Conditions for in-person education

Days before the start of Morocco’s academic year and the controversy over Amzazi’s remarks, the Ministry of Education issued a health protocol to ensure the safety of students attending in-person classes.

The protocol includes the use of disinfectant in classrooms. Students should also stand in two rows in front of school as they wait to enter, while respecting a safe distance of one meter.

Additionally, students should use hand sanitizer and clean the soles of their shoes in water containers.

Inside the school, students must stay at a distance of one meter from each other throughout the whole day, in classrooms, sports fields, and during recess.

The ministry recommended a safe distance greater than one meter for preschool students.

Private schools should respect preventive measures in buses, which should not exceed 50% of their seat capacity.

Read Also: Morocco Issues Strict Health Protocol Before School Reopening