In January, Dyslexia International joined forces with local dyslexia associations in Morocco and the Regional Academy for Education, Rabat, to share two days of training with school administrators, head teachers, school inspectors, specialists in special needs and psychomotor problems, and speech therapists, as well as visits to schools.
These sessions were financed by the UNESCO Particiaption Programme with Dyslexia International. Monsieur Michael Milward, UNESCO representative for the Maghreb region spoke of his hope for a continuity in training.
Monsieur Makaoui had been inspired by his attendance at the first World Dyslexia Forum, in Paris in 2010. Madame Karima Mazigh ably undertook the local organization.
Professor Oueini stressed that the training was not simply about informing teachers about dyslexia but ‘saving a human being’ from failure at school, and subsequent marginalization in society.
In brief, the training was repeated three times over two days, in three modules each time. The first was theoretical, the second about practical teaching methods, and the third about handling the classroom.
The team visited three schools. In one the teachers lamented the lack of concrete material to help them and lack of suitable training.
Professor Oueini has added his overall, personal impressions.
‘There has never been a greater need for more information about dyslexia in Morocco. All professionals (speech and psychomotor therapists, psychologists and doctors) wanted training in two languages. They lamented the absence of diagnostic tools and methods of remediation. Administrators, head teachers and teachers needed more guidance in helping pupils who were not progressing. Parents were almost desperate. They wanted an end to the sufferings of their children left misunderstood and marginalized, forced to repeat school years, being sent back again and again to schools which were unable to help them. They needed laws and legislation at the national level covering: better accommodations right in the classroom and during exams (more time, use of computers and exemption from being penalized for spelling mistakes).
‘The teachers took part in the workshops with enthusiasm. They were there by their own choice and wanted to learn at all costs.
‘Strong points included: (a) excellent organization thanks to the President of the Dyslexia Association Ms Karima Mazigh (except perhaps for the first day, which was overloaded), (b) the keenness of the participants, (c) the dedication of the organizers who worked tirelessly on a modest budget.
‘The biggest limitation was the need to present the same workshop six times in two days, and this meant that it was not possible to go deeper into some aspects of training.’
Finally, Professor Oueini recommended that Morocco undertook a national, long-term project in the interests of all pupils at risk of failure and for the benefit of raising literacy levels in Morocco.
The complete report (in French) which will be presented to UNESCO can be found here.