Some 47.2 per cent of Moroccan undergraduate students drop out of university before graduation, the Ministry of Education revealed this week.
Some 860,000 students are currently enrolled at universities in Morocco, 42 per cent of whom are women. But according to the latest figures, only 454,000 of them will go on to obtain their degree.
Whilst student enrolment has increased over the past five years, Morocco still has a comparatively low rate of students in higher education, with only around one in three 18 to 22-year-olds opting to study further. Schools have also failed to secure more professors to keep up with the rising student numbers, resulting in a lower standard of teaching.
Morocco also experiences a reversal of employment trends compared to the rest of the world, with higher unemployment rates for graduates than the rest of the population. Whilst the country's general unemployment rate has averaged at ten per cent over the past year, 22 per cent of graduates are jobless – a figure that has doubled over the last five years and is expected to rise to 50 per cent.
Although studies have found that the vast majority of Moroccan students that pursue higher education have an ardent desire to study their chosen subject, many report difficulties in being able to financially afford their degree programme, with fewer prospects to look forward to at the end of their studies.
Those who do secure work often do so through family connections, leaving those from poorer households feeling hopeless in continuing studies that they can already ill afford.
The figures have prompted government action to support education and offer employment prospects. Earlier this year, the government allocated $7.34 billion to specifically improve material resources and educational quality for university students. Some MPs have also called on the government to create a fund to support Moroccan undergraduates and postgraduates from universities across the country.
However, resentment over the mismanagement of education has also grown. Last month, hundreds of trade unionists and teachers demonstrated in front of Morocco's Ministry of Education in the capital Rabat, demanding better educational provision, in a protest organised by the National Federation for Education.
Protesters called for "real education reform" and improved conditions for teachers, while rejecting government plans that had suggested cancelling some free education programmes and privatising more schools.