Research project on the impact of the development of private education in Morocco

This page covers specifically the situation in Morocco. For more information about our work on privatisation in education in other areas, see

Overview of the project

Morocco was reviewed by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on 3rd September 2014. You can review the webcast (in arabic) on Or revive the live twitting: You can also find on our site a blog post on the advocacy strategy used with the UN for this work, which was reposted from RTE’s website.

In September 2012, the GI-ESCR, together with the Moroccan Coalition on Education for All and the Forum des Alternatives Maroc, started a one-year project to assess the impact of the rapid growth of private education on the right to education in Morocco, in particular at the primary level. This project is supported by the Privatization in Education Research Initiative and is part of a broader inquiry into the push for private education in the world, as private education has been growing at a fast pace in many developing countries over the last decade, raising issues about discrimination and segregation in access to quality education.

The project consists of a one-year empirical research on the impact of privatisation in education in urban areas in Morocco. The results of this research are used in parallel to conduct advocacy at the UN level with the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which is reviewing the implementation by Morocco of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which protects the right to education. As part of its advocacy efforts, the GI-ESCR has submitted a parallel report Committee on the Rights of the Child which was complemented with a list of recommendations. A visual summary of key issues in the report was also produced.

As a result of this, the Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a list of issues, to which the Moroccan government responded to in writing, and which questions Morocco about its policy of privatising education. The response was very vague and unsatisfying on the issue of private education, and we published a report highlighting these failures.

In September 2014, Morocco was reviewed formally by the CRC. The Committee asked a number of questions about privatisation in education in Morocco, and recalled that education is a ‘public good’. Following the review, the CRC published concluding observations at the end of September 2014 that denounce privatisation in education in Morocco. The GI-ESCR and partners organised a press conference on that day, which was very impactful. The report of the press conference is available here.

Following this work, it was decided to submit a report on privatisation in education in Morocco to another UN human rights body, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The report is available in English and in French.


The results of the work, in particular the concluding observations, were widely covered by the media. A full list of the media coverage on privatisation in education following the September 2014 press conference about the concluding observations of the CRC is available here. Examples of this press coverage include:


The GI-ESCR works closely on this project with local partners in Morocco

The Moroccan Coalition on Education for All(MCEFA) is a Moroccan NGO created in 2010. It is a network of more than 50 Moroccan organisations interested in the valorisation of public education in Morocco. See

The Forum des Alternative Maroc (FMAS) is a Moroccan NGO created in 2003 to promote democracy, human rights and social justice in Morocco. It works with an extensive network of national and grassroots civil society organizations in Morocco and beyond, in particular through its E-Joussour project (, a Maghreb/Machrek civil society portal. See

Following the work on the CRC, the numbers of partners has increased, and include:



The following documents have been prepared by the GI-ESCR and its partners in the context of this project:

Other useful documents:

Contacts on the project


Related News


14/04/2015 The UN expresses concern about « privatisation » of education in Morocco

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(Rabat, 14 April 2015) The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR)* recently published a document outlining a list of issues (questions) addressed to the government of Morocco, to which the government must respond in writing in the coming months.

The issues listed by the CESCR directly reflect the concerns raised in December 2014 by a collective of Moroccan and international organisations in a parallel report submitted to the Committee on the issue of privatisation in education in Morocco. This list of issues represents a landmark, as it is the first time that a UN Committee directly acknowledges the current evolution of the Moroccan education system as “privatisation“.

At paragraph 25 of the list of issues, the CESCR asks the government of Morocco to “provide information on the establishment of private schools and the impact that privatisation would have on the education system, in particular to prevent school dropout, inequalities in access to education and ensure the full application of the principle of compulsory and free primary education for all.” The Committee is also concerned about the state of public education, and it asked the Moroccan government to “provide information on the measures taken to improve the quality of public education, including in the area of preschool education”.

The collective of organisations which submitted the initial parallel report to which the CESCR responded includes: the Moroccan Coalition for Education for All; the National Federation of Associations of Parents of Morocco; the Global Initiative for Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; the Democratic Movement Anfass; Bayti; the Union of Students for a Change of the Educational System; Zaynoo for Equal Opportunities, and ATTAC Morocco. The report describes how the uncontrolled growth of private education in Morocco generates discrimination in education, and is a source of human rights violations.

The report also described with great concern the risks for Morocco to adopt a public-private partnership (PPP) in education, as currently envisaged in a bill prepared by the government. The collective of organisations isparticularly concerned that Morocco follow the model of PPPs used in Chile, through a system of “vouchers”, whereas the Chilean education system is one of the most discriminatory in the world. This system has failed to such a point that the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) recently questioned the “segregation” caused by the Chilean model, and Chile is moving away from this system to build back a strong public-based system, which is the only option to guarantee education for all without discrimination.

The issues raised by the CESCR regarding Morocco follow recommendations on the same issue from the CRC from September 2014. On the basis of a research from a group of organizations, the CRC had alreadydenounced the uncontrolled development of private education in Morocco, noting that it had led “to the reinforcement of inequalities in the enjoyment of the right to education.”

Welcoming the list of issues published by the CESCR, and the fact that its concerns have been taken into account, the collective of organisations:

  • Requests the government to responds precisely and transparently to the questions raised by the CESCR;
  • Reaffirms its willingness to contribute to the debate on the reform of the education system in Morocco;
  • Is getting ready to conduct an advocacy campaign around the issue of privatisation in education in Morocco;
  • Calls all advocates of the right to education to rally its dynamics.


24/09/2014 UN denounces increasingly privatized education – finds it reinforces inequalities

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«Private education is developing very quickly, especially at primary levelwithout the necessary supervision regarding the conditions of enrolment and the quality ofeducation provided, which has led to the reinforcement of inequalities in the enjoyment ofthe right to education», the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) declared today. The Committee of experts, which monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (ratified by Morocco in 1993), published its written recommendations on Morocco today, following the review of the country conducted on 3rd September.

“This is a very strong message from the Committee on the Rights of the Child. It clearly links private education with inequalities, and thus with discrimination. The CRC indicates that Morocco’s choice to allow inequality and segregation in the educational system through privatisation is contrary to human rights standards. This demonstrates that the growth of private education, in Morocco and in the many other countries where it is taking place, can be questioned under international human rights law” said Sylvain Aubry, the right to education researcher for the Global Initiative, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR).

The Committee also asked the Moroccan government in its written recommendations of today to “Assess and address the consequences of the rapid development of private education […] and ensure that teachers from the public sector contribute to the improvement of education in Morocco rather than being used by the private sector”.

Khadija Yamllahi, a member of the board of the Moroccan Coalition on Education for All (CMEPT) and member of the Moroccan Parliamentary Group on Education summarised the position of the coalition, which represents more than 50 civil society organisations: “The Committee has clearly stated that everyone in Morocco has the right to a free, quality, public education, and it is simply illegal and unacceptable that many families are forced to make financial sacrifices to send their children to private schools simply because the public schools close to their homes are of poor quality. The government must make every effort both to ensure that public schools offer what families are entitled to expect and to effectively regulate private schools, many of which abuse their position of strength.”

The GI-ESCR and the CMEPT have published a series of reports in the last 10 months, analysing the impact of privatisation in education on the right to education in Morocco. These reports lead the CRC to question the Moroccan government representatives during the examination of the State on 3rd September, in particular after the head of delegation told the Committee that the government wants to “promote free competition between schools”.

Ms Yamllahi and Mr Aubry concluded with reflections for the next steps: “These recommendations provide Moroccan society with strong advocacy tools to engage on this issue. What we truly need, in Morocco and in other countries, is an open and transparent debate on the future of the education system and the role of private education. Like many developing countries, Morocco is slipping rapidly towards a model where education is largely regulated by the market, similar to Chile, and experience has shown that such models are highly discriminatory and inefficient. We do not believe that such a move is the wish of Moroccan society. Now we have confirmation from the UN that in some circumstances, the impact of privatisation in education, is likely to constitute a violation of human rights standards.”

The GI-ESCR, together with a number of partners, recently started an 18 month research project in 7 countries, with the support of the Privatisation in Education Research Initiative (PERI) of the Education Support Program of the Open Society Foundations, exploring how human rights standards apply to privatisation in education. This project comes in a context where private, for-profit, fee-paying schools, have been growing at very fast pace in the last years, rapidly changing the education systems and undermining equal rights and social cohesion in many developing countries. The concluding observations on Morocco released today by the CRC are an important step towards advancing a human rights response to this recent phenomenon.

05/09/2014 The UN confirms that education is a “public good” and asks Morocco to explain itself about privatization in education

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Versión española aquí

Geneva, 5th September

Yesterday in Geneva the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) questioned Morocco about its policy of privatising education and appeared to regret the absence of a satisfactory response from the government. The Moroccan government was reviewed this week by the UN Committee of Experts which is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Morocco ratified in 1993.

The members of the CRC raised serious concerns about the impact of privatisation of Moroccan schools on children’s right to free, quality and accessible education, asking four questions on this topic. After the Moroccan delegation did not respond to the first question, two other members of the CRC asked additional questions on the topic voicing their concerns about issues such as the transfer of teachers from public to private schools, inequalities created by privatisation, and the education system that Morocco is promoting.

The Government delegation headed by the Minister for Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development, Ms Bassima Hakkaoui, responded that Morocco “promotes free competition among schools” and hopes to rapidly achieve “20% of pupils enrolled in private schools”. Given the response, which denied any issue with regards to private schools in Morocco, a CRC member felt compelled to ask another follow-up question on the subject.

The Committee reminded the Moroccan delegation that education is a public good guaranteed as such since the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It also mentioned that the King of Morocco has recently added his voice to the increasing concerns about growing inequalities created by privatisation in education in Morocco, and asked the Moroccan delegation if there were at least two issues associated with privatisation they could identify. It is only then that that the representative from the human rights department of the government finally admitted that there was a problem and that the government was working to reform the education system.

The answers given by the government to questions from the Committee on the Rights of the Child do not respond to the basic structural problems of discrimination in the education system in the country created by privatization in education”, reacted Sylvain Aubry, the researcher on the human right to education for the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR).

The GI-ESCR with its Moroccan partner has conducted a one-year research study on the effects of privatisation in Morocco, and has published three reports demonstrating the negative impacts of the government-backed privatisation in education on children’s right to education (see here).

Lucy McKernan, UN Liaison with the GI-ESCR, explained that “for 15 years, the government has encouraged the development of private education. But today, many Moroccans feel compelled to make sacrifices to send their children to expensive private schools, and this creates great inequality and divide in society between those who have access to the best expensive schools, and others who feel left behind”.

Bret Thiele, co-director of the GI-ESCR added “We hope that in its concluding observations the Committee on the Rights of the Child will remind Morocco of its obligation under international law to provide quality public education for all, in order to fight against inequality, rather than encourage private education, which is exacerbating geographic and socio-economic inequalities and societal segregation“.

Following its review of Morocco, the CRC will publish at the end of September a set of recommendations on the implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child in Morocco, called ‘concluding observations’. The GI-ESCR and its partners have indicated that they will closely monitor the implementation of these observations by the Moroccan government.


04/03/2014 Moroccan civil society mobilizes following the UN questions on private education and discrimination in Morocco

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(Rabat) – Nearly 30 people representing various Moroccan civil society organizations met on Saturday, March 1 in Rabat to build their capacities on the right to education and discuss recommendations to reform the country’s education system. This event was organised by the Moroccan Coalition for Education for All (MCEFA) and the Forum of Alternatives Morocco (FMAS) following the publication in mid-February by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) of a list of issues raising questions about Morocco’s education system.

The CRC asked Morocco to explain itself about the persistent discrimination in the country’s educational system and the lack of regulation of the private education sector (see MCEFA’s press release Many civil society organisations from diverse backgrounds, including associations and unions as well as a member of parliament met for a day to ask the government to respond precisely and transparently to the questions it was asked.

This meeting was organised as the government has not adequately consulted Moroccan civil society in the review process before the CRC. Fatna Afid, the teachers’ union Democratic Labour Organization (ODT)’s general secretary expressed her indignation towards ‘the Moroccan government’s failure to involve the teachers’ unions and civil society to develop the Government report.’ ’I also regret that the Government has not published the report or the issues raised by the CRC for the public to be informed’ she said.

The meeting was also an opportunity for the participants to begin drafting recommendations on the reform of the education system, based on the issues raised by the CRC. MP Khadija Yamllahi stressed the importance of this work: ‘The reform of the education system is a priority to guarantee equal opportunities and social justice. We must initiate the debate and mobilize on the right to education and the privatization of education. Mobilization of civil society is crucial and strategic for the government to reform the education system and to regulate the private education sector.’

This diagnosis was confirmed by Khadija Boujadi, coordinator of the Department of Foreign Affairs and member of the board of the teacher’s union of the Democratic Federation of Labour (SNE/FDT): ‘The conference was a success because the range of partners that were present agreed to denounce the privatisation of the educational system in Morocco and the impact this has on the right to education. To promote quality public education, we must react united!

The president of the MCEFA, Ahmed Sehouate, stated his satisfaction to see civil society emphasizing the dangers of privatization in education in Morocco and mobilising for reform: ‘The meeting is a turning point and a crucial step forward for the action of the MCEFA, firstly because of the quality and diversity of the organizations present, and secondly, because of the importance of the issues discussed: the report of the CRC and the development of private education at the expense of a quality public education.

The participants to Saturday’s symposium agreed on a work plan and expected to make written recommendations in the coming months. They also planned to organize another work seminar in May to finalize their proposals and extend advocacy with the government, which must respond in writing to questions from CRC before 15 June 2014.


27/02/2014 The UN questions private education in Morocco

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Arabic version here

(Rabat) – In a list of issues released on Tuesday, 18 February, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) formally asked the Moroccan Government to explain the measures it has taken to ensure that all children have access, without any discrimination, to quality education. The Committee specifically requested that Morocco explain the measures taken to ensure that the development of private education does not come at the expense of public schools. This is a first victory for the Moroccan Coalition for Education for All (MCEFA), the Forum des Alternatives Maroc (FMAS) and the Global Initiative on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR), as several points that they had raised in their reports to the Committee were included in the list of issues of the CRC.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN body made up of international experts responsible for monitoring implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, asked the Moroccan Government to explain ‘the measures [that] have been taken since the establishment of the 2008-2012 Emergency National Education Plan to ensure access of all children to a quality education, to end the discrimination which children, including children living in rural areas and girls, are still suffering’. They also required the government to explain ‘the measures taken to control the conditions and quality of education in private schools and to ensure that public school teachers are not transferred to private schools’.

The MCEFA, the FMAS and the GI-ESCR welcomed on Thursday the consideration by CRC of the issues they had raised and this new perspective on the increasing difficulties of the Moroccan educational system.

‘We are pleased that the Committee on the Rights of the Child has recognised that the issue of education, and in particular the question of the regulation of private education, is essential. This is the result of several months of work on this issue from the MCEFA and other organisations which has demonstrated and denounced discrimination in education created by the uncontrolled development of private education in Morocco. We now hope that the Government will respond accurately and transparently to the questions that have been submitted to them and we look forward to a fuller examination of privatisation of education in Morocco in September this year,’ declared the 3 organisations.

This list of issues published by the CRC follows a pre-review of Morocco by the CRC on 3 February 2014. The Moroccan Government must now respond in writing to questions posed by the Committee by 15 June 2014. Morocco will then be formally reviewed in plenary by the CRC in September 2014, after which the Committee will make written recommendations.

The organisations stand ready to contribute to the debate on the reform of the education system. They will keep on working on this topic with the Moroccan civil society in the coming months.

31.01.2014 Privatization of education in Morocco breaches human rights: new report

(Geneva) – ‘Increased privatization of schools in Morocco is benefiting the elite and maintaining a mediocre public education system for the rest of the population. Increasing privatization in education in Morocco without strong government regulation is discriminatory, likely to exacerbate inequality, and if not properly dealt with in an expeditious manner would rise to a violation of Morocco’s obligations under international human rights law’, a leading coalition of non-governmental organisations said today.

The coalition, which has been coordinated by the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, has recently submitted a major report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. The UN body of child rights experts will met in Geneva on 3 February 2014 to consider Morocco’s human rights record.

‘Morocco is at risk of developing a two-speed education system which privileges fee-paying private education at the expense of quality and accessible education for the least advantaged and children in rural areas,’ said Sylvain Aubry, the report researcher for the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Thanks to the active support of private education providers by the Moroccan State, including through policy regulations and tax incentives, enrollments in private education in Morocco have risen sharply in the last decade. Between 1995 and 2010 private enrollments across all levels of the Moroccan education system more than doubled and at the primary level, enrollments more than tripled from 4% in 1999 to 13% in 2012.

Yet, 80% of these private schools in Morocco are fee-paying, for-profit schools in the urban Kenitra – Casablanca area. These schools target wealthy urban households, thus not improving access for the majority of the population who do not have the financial means to pay for schooling.

Recent data released by the UNESCO shows that in 2011 the poorest rural children were 2.7 times less likely to learn basics in reading than the richest children in urban areas, a gap which has increased by 26% since 2006.

According to the report, the increasing privatization of education in Morocco is accompanied by a widening gap in access to quality education and inequalities between the most advantaged and the most disadvantages families.

‘Despite the obligation under international law to take measures to increase access to quality education for all without discrimination, Morocco is taking measures which in fact increase inequalities’ said Bret Thiele, the Co-Executive Director of the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

‘We are gravely concerned that the privatization of education in Morocco is exacerbating inequalities in education for disadvantaged children by creating a system that privileges the haves over the have-nots,’ Mr Thiele said.

The growing trend of inequalities and the continuous government support of private education has occurred despite previous warnings and recommendations by UN bodies and experts. In 2006, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights raised concerns that Morocco ‘has a two-speed education system with a striking difference in level between public and private education which denies equal opportunities to low-income sectors of society’. The former UN Education Expert, Mr Vernor Muñoz Villalobos, similarly noted in 2006 after a visit to the country, ‘an apparently excessive promotion by the authorities of private education’.

The UN Committee’s review of Morocco comes at a critical time, with the nation’s King referring to the challenges in ensuring quality education for all due to the high fees charged by private schools in a recent speech to the nation from August 2013.

In addition, the current UN Right to Education expert, Mr Singh, warned in a recent report that ‘in many parts of the world inequalities in opportunities for education will be exacerbated by the growth of unregulated private providers of education, with wealth or economic status becoming the most important criterion to access a quality education’.

‘This is a very topical issue in Morocco right now, with changes in the education sector occurring at a fast pace. We urge the Government to look closely at the impacts on equality because their policy decisions now will have profound and long-lasting impacts on the education of Moroccan children and the future of our nation,’ said Mr Ahmed Sehouate, the president of the Coalition Marocaine pour l’Éducation pour Tous (the Moroccan Coalition on Education for All).

‘We call on the UN Child Rights Committee to contribute to efforts for human rights compliant reform by reinforcing to Morocco its primary obligation to allocate the maximum available resources towards ensuring that every child has access to free quality education’ Mr Thiele said.

‘The position of the Committee will be crucial for the future of Morocco, but also to highlight the risks that unregulated private education creates for the realisation of the right to education and to outline the applicable standards for the growing number of developing countries which are taking a similar path’ said Mr Aubry,

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