The Moroccan example of textbooks revision: Interview with a UNESCO-appointed expert

Cherki El Hamdani, former Chief Division to the curricula Direction of the Moroccan Education Ministry, took part in the elaboration of UNESCO’s toolkit for the revision of teaching programs, textbooks and other learning materials. The toolkit was developed to contribute to the achievement of the SDG 4.

In a world of multimedia, what is the importance of textbook revision?

Multimedia has overrun our lifestyle. Scientific and technological innovations infringe on every sectors, education and teaching are not spared. Textbooks, an essential tool for teachers and learners are meant to be enhanced, either in format or in content.

I think that the permanent revision - on digital supports - allows correction to be simplified, newer and contents that are more relevant can be increased while developing a pedagogical approach that stimulates active learning. Textbooks will be provided, with texts, pictures, audio/video supports…it will certainly spark more desire to learn among the students.

How can textbook revision be aligned with the Sustainable Developments Goal 4 - Target 4.7?

The Toolkit developed by UNESCO, on which I brought my expertise, shows how to create interactions between a teacher and a stereotype/prejudice-free learning. This is made possible thanks to the critical review of textbooks, implementation of an inclusive education, the wide spreading of the guides, along training workshops.

The Toolkit is meant for those who are interested in education and development. It is particularly helpful for all the actors of education, which I could describe more in depth here.

On the one we have the Policy-makers elaborate education policies and school-program designers can implement the policies required to promote peace, equality and social cohesion in contexts of development and education.

Then, I could talk to you about the Program-designers will be able to use the guide in order to define criteria for the conception of basic textbooks as well as additional teaching materials, while the teachers may use the guide in order to analyze current texts and recommend revision for the next editions. To finish, the editors may use the guide for each step of the text elaboration, from the conception to the final product, which include the updates of current editions.

How can the UNESCO toolkit help both decision makers and teachers?

The supreme council of Education, formation and scientific research of Morocco has elaborated a strategic vision “For a school of equity, quality and promotion 2015-2030”. The Sustainable Development Goal 4 and target 4.7 in particular, are on the pillars of this vision that a recommendation consists in I quote, ‘’the integration of “values and rights” approach in curricula, programs and didactical resources […] the strengthening of gender equality education and the struggle against discrimination, stereotypes and the negative depictions of women within program and textbooks”.

I would like you to remember that the Ministry of Education has implemented specialized authorities in the monitoring sector of values aspects and promoting inclusive education of human rights values through curricula, textbooks and other teaching materials. We may mention among those structures: the permanent committee of programs, the values committee, the central unit of Human Rights education. It is in this field, that the curriculum directorate organized a workshop on April 12, 2017 in which the UNESCO Toolkit, in particular the guide entitled "Making textbook content inclusive: a focus on religion, gender and culture" were introduced, tested and reviewed by the actors in the sector of curricula and textbooks. This meeting allowed to inform, to sensitize and to train different stakeholders to inclusive content issues concerning culture, religion and gender in these new textbooks production.

On that note, I am glad to announce that the revision of several textbooks is ongoing, and aim at deleting every message deemed radical, discriminatory, sexist or even violent. New textbooks concerned by this operation will be operational for the year 2017-2018. 

This interview was done last April in Rabat during a workshop entitled “Making textbooks content inclusive: culture, History and religion”, held by the Moroccan Education Ministry.

The audio version of the interview is available through podcast in French and in Arabic.

UNESCO’s toolkit is composed of the following guides: