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Morocco: Reducing Maximum Employment Age To 30 Denies Citizens Equality Of Opportunities

Geneva – The Moroccan Ministry of National Education, Primary Education, and Sports’ decision to reduce the maximum employment age in regional academies of education and training to 30 years is unfair, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said Monday in a statement. The decision challenges the law and ignores the principle of equality of opportunities guaranteed by the constitution.

Instead of issuing the decision in an administrative manner and excluding a large group of unemployed graduates, it should have been studied by the legislative authority, and its effects and consequences on a large segment of society should have been discussed before being approved.

On Friday, the Minister of Education issued a decision setting the maximum age for passing employment competitions at 30 years, under the pretext of “attracting young male and female candidates to teaching professions to ensure their permanent commitment to serving the public schools, in addition to investing in their training and career paths.”

Euro-Med Monitor received photos and video clips showing the Moroccan police arresting several graduates who have demonstrated regularly since last Saturday in the cities of Rabat, Fez, Khenifra, Beni Mellal, and others, to denounce what they described as "the biased employment policy and the exclusionary decisions against the Moroccan people."

“M.A.,” a university graduate affected by the decision, told Euro-Med Monitor, "We organized a demonstration yesterday, Monday, in front of ‘Abdel-Malik Al-Saadi’ University in the city of Martil. We intended to go to the regional academy in the city of ‘Tetouan,’ on foot, to express our rejection of the decision. But the security authorities blocked our way, prevented us from reaching there, arrested a number of participants in the demonstration, and took them to an unknown destination.”

The Moroccan Constitution clearly protects the principle of equality of opportunities. In its introduction, it states that the kingdom “develops a society of solidarity where all enjoy security, liberty, equality of opportunities, of respect for their dignity and for social justice, within the framework of the principle of correlation between the rights and the duties of the citizenry.”

Article 35 of the Constitution stipulates that “The State looks to guarantee the equality of opportunities for all and [to] one specific protection for the socially disfavored categories.”

Faisal Al-Hashimi, 34, another university graduate affected by the decision, told Euro-Med Monitor: “many of my graduate colleagues from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Marrakesh and I were affected by this decision, which excludes us, marginalizes us, and denies us the opportunity to join the public service to improve our social and economic conditions, even though we are still in the prime of our youth.”

Al-Hashemi continued, "We went out to the street to express our rejection of the selective policy and the impossible conditions for appointment to the public office in academic frameworks, and to demand the creation of real opportunities that suit our conditions, not decisions that destroy our dreams and keep us on unemployment lists."

In turn, legal researcher at Euro-Med Monitor, Youssef Salem, said that the decision violates Article 4 of the statute of the regional academy frameworks, which is the reference for conditions for engaging in the public academic career. It stipulates that the age of the applicant should range between 18-40 years, and the maximum age for employment is 45 years, in some cases specified by the system, he said.

The Ministry of Education should reverse the decision, take into account the conditions of unemployed graduates, and respect the rights of citizens protected by the provisions of the Moroccan Constitution of 2011.

The authorities should unconditionally release all the graduates detained for participating in the demonstrations and respect the right to freedom of opinion and expression and peaceful assembly.

The government should open channels of dialogue with graduates who did not obtain job opportunities over the past years due to difficult economic conditions and discuss solutions to enroll them in government jobs instead of creating decisions that weaken or eliminate their employment opportunities.

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