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Learning from the ‘Teacher-less’ schools of Morocco

Since the December 2016 visit of Moroccan King Mohammed VI to Nigeria, and President Muhammadu Buhari’s return visit in June 2018, the North African country…

Since the December 2016 visit of Moroccan King Mohammed VI to Nigeria, and President Muhammadu Buhari’s return visit in June 2018, the North African country has been taking deliberate actions to deepening its relationship with Nigeria.

During a recent visit to the North African country, as the largest phosphate reserves in the world, Morocco has also been trying to showcase its potential to the world.

One of such is what our correspondent referred to as ‘teacherless schools’, where students were their own teachers and then turned their crankiness of youthful exuberance to learning and deepened the Kingdom’s IT prowess.

Leet (or “1337”), also known as eleet or leetspeak, is a system of modified spellings used primarily on the Internet.

A screen shot of the 42 Network

It often uses character replacements in ways that play on the similarity of their glyphs via reflection or other resemblance.

The term “leet” is derived from the word elite, used as an adjective to describe formidable prowess or accomplishment.

While there are 42 networks of the 1337 Coding schools, for advanced computer training across the world, two of the schools are in Morocco.

Through the OCP Group, Morocco’s opened the second “1337 School” campus in Ben Guerir, near Marrakech in June 2019, after the first was established in Khouribga in 2018.

At the Khouribga campus, which our correspondent visited recently, 1337 stands for : L=1, E=3, E=3, T=7.

For the students, they had to firstly be immersed into the coding school where peer review was self-initiated before learning and knowledge is shared and compared with other students.

At the end of this first test, the students will have to prepare to integrate the school 1337 to pursue a curriculum of a minimum of three years, according to the ability of each other to validate the expected and set levels.

One of the OCP officials, Abdellah Ghalai, said that there are 21 levels to complete and that if the student makes 14, he or she gets a junior certificate; and when such student completes 21, receives a senior certificate.

According to him, the objective of the schools and the ‘study endeavour’ is to widen the fields of opportunities for Moroccan and African youth as the schools admit qualified candidates from across the continent.

Some wordings at the entrance at the Khouribga campus

He said only 2.5 percent of students drop out and that there is even an improvement with the number of drop out.

It was learnt that the opening of the schools was due to the partnership between the OCP Group and 42 Paris, in France.

Over 500 students from all over the Kingdom and several African countries are currently engaged in the two schools.

The record of the schools showed that, it is a complementary brick in an ambitious ecosystem of knowledge that aims to train over 1000 young people in the digital professions.

Those selected as the future coders enjoy a real comfort within the school, catering, but also a stock exchange.

Everything is free, including accommodation, feeding and a stipend for the majority of the students, except few of the students that pay paltry fees on their choice.

To offer students an exchange opportunity, a meet-up in the form of a meeting space is reserved for conferences, exchanges between speakers, artists or professionals of the sector, who come to meet students every week. It is also an opportunity for coders who think, in many cases, to start their own business, to practice pitching a new start-up idea as part of one of the school’s clubs.

In the teacherless Moroccan 1337 schools, there is no school year, but levels of experience to achieve the total capacity of the two campuses of over 1,800 students.

On admission:

He said that the teaching method consists of self-learning students in pairs and that one of the advantages of the training is the accessibility to all and which does not require specific degrees, as only the internet test is necessary to reach the final stage of admission to the coding school.

History of ‘teacherless school’

The 42 Network was established in Paris in 2013. With 20 partner campuses worldwide, the 42 Network represents an international community for digital learning.

The school which is opened 24 hours of the week is also completely free, and has no application prerequisites.

Another official of the OCP Africa said any student is eligible to attend the schools in the 42 Network regardless of previous education or computer training.

“The only criteria for admission is creativity,” she said.

According to her, using an innovative educational vision of peer-to-peer learning, the 42 Network strives to train professionals to help answer the shortage of digital talents while addressing economic and technological mutation.

She said the online peer-to-peer learning strategy ensures the same quality of education across the network, allows international mobility, and creates a multi-cultural environment for students. By focusing on completing projects rather than attending classes, 1337 School allows students to fully express their creativity.

She recalled that 1337 originates from the programming language “Leet speak”, initiated by some engineers in the late 1980s, using alphanumeric characters (the 5 replaces the S, the 7 replaces the T among others for the purpose of be the least understandable possible).

The trip was also part of stimulating agric expansion in Nigeria through knowledge sharing.

The visiting team also interacted with managers of the leading agricultural facilities and research centres.

Part of the objective of the trip was to deepen the visitors’ knowledge about agric business and to appreciate the socio-economic path of phosphate-making giant, OCP Africa, beyond fertilizer production.

Students learning at Khouribga campus

The visitors engaged with the OCP Africa and its research departments and also visited the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Benguerir, which is described as a centre of agricultural innovation.

There was also a visit to the company’s creation of technology/knowledge hubs like the Research Institute for Solar and New Energies (IRESEN), which hosts Africa’s Solar Decathlon.

Currently, the OCP-Group phosphate production’s turnover stands at $200m per annum, and this is expected to continue to grow in the coming years.

The OCP Africa, Nigeria MD, Mr. Mohamed Hettiti, said this represents a rare opportunity for Africa.

He said Casablanca is a melting point of Africa’s culture and that the visit was also to foster cultural exchange between Morocco and Nigeria.

The team visited the renowned Tanger Med, a Moroccan cargo port located on the Strait of Gibraltar, which is about 40 km east of Tangier, Morocco.

The port’s capacity ranked among the topmost in the Mediterranean and in Africa.

Apart from serving as the industrial hub of world leading car and other top manufacturing companies, the port also naturally served the Morocco’s car assembly plant to Europe, America and other parts of the world.

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