Although never said these words are probably the most famous quote associated with Casablanca; however the city offers so much more than the backdrop to the famous 1942 film.
A former French colonial post Casablanca is a busy, bustling, modern city that hasn’t bowed to pressure and change to meet the needs of the sun-loving tourist. The city is the most Westernised in Morocco but still retains an Islamic heart. Highlights for a tourist include the King Hassan II Mosque and Casa’s Medina.
The purpose of the visit was to attend the British Council’s Bringing the Learning Home seminar on international partnerships and developing skills for employment. UK NARIC has previously had very little involvement in this area but it quickly became apparent that there is a significant strategic role for the UK’s national agency to play alongside the British Council.
International skills and education partnerships exist for a number of reasons; to develop and share best practice (including QA, curriculum development, delivery and assessment), to generate additional income, to improve student mobility and for education providers to learn from each other. Each individual partnership is unique and outcomes vary accordingly. Some programmes may have a micro-impact where the main benefit is experienced by the students only; others might have a macro-impact with the institution changes its behaviour as a result of the partnership; some partnerships have even had a national-impact where the partnership findings have resulted in a change to education or skills policy.
Key to the success of partnerships is an in depth understanding by each partner of the educational systems involved and an appreciation of where the partnership outcomes will fit into the education and skills frameworks. This is where UK NARIC can and do help. The data contained UK NARIC’s online databases and the findings of our benchmarking work can help ensure that partners are better equipped to succeed.
But what of Casablanca and Morocco? It is always difficult to judge a country from one city and a city from a four day visit; however, some traits did become clear.
Although not the capital of the country, Casablanca is a very lively and busy place. Industry and commerce are everywhere. On most streets in the centre of the city there are vendors adding colour and atmosphere. The markets in the medinas are an experience not to be passed up; they are a delight to each of the senses!
There is the constant buzz of transport accompanied by a symphony of horns, hooters, bells and back-firing engines. Getting around the city in the red taxis is not for the faint hearted, but it does add to the overall excitement.
There are oases of calm. The King Hassan II Mosque, set on an Atlantic headland, appears a million miles away from the bustle of the city centre. A thirty minute stroll back into the city also takes you past the excellent La Sqala restaurant and ever popular Rick’s Cafe.
Returning to partnerships; it was evident from the conference that there are many opportunities available for UK education providers in Morocco; and it is equally evident that they are interested in partnering with UK providers. Morocco’s education system is based on the French Napoleonic system and is similar to other systems in North Africa.
Morocco was a former French protectorate, so the education system is modelled on the French education system
Secondary education is supervised by the Ministry of Education.
Upon completion of secondary school, students get the Baccalauréat, this is the secondary school award that gives access to higher education in Morocco and it might be suitable for entry into overseas institutions (it is all down to institutional discretion).
Technical and vocational courses are available at secondary school level where students are awarded the Baccalaureat Technique. At the post-school level vocational courses are usually two years; the highest technical award is a Brevet de Technicien Supérieur.
Higher education is offered by universities and Grandes Ecoles and is under the supervision of the Ministère de l´Enseignement Supérieur (Ministry of Higher Education).
The awards from recognised HE institutions are comparable to standards of the reciprocal UK HE awards.
In short, although not closely linked to the UK’s system Moroccan awards are broadly comparable to the standard of UK awards.
There are a lot of opportunities in Morocco especially for those interested in partnerships and TNE.