Rabat – A BAM report found that despite high costs, increasing numbers of Moroccans are enrolling their children in private schools.The trend is due to deteriorating infrastructure and declining teaching quality in public schools, according to Bank Al-Maghrib (BAM).The estimates are part of BAM’s annual report for the year 2017, published last week. The report pointed out a large and expanding income gap between Moroccan households and called for more government actions to promote inclusive policies and curb the increasing social and economic consequences of income inequality. Private schools charge ‘excessive’ feesIn its assessment of price fluctuations and inflation in Morocco in the last two decades, the report found that education-related costs take the lion’s share of Moroccan households’ income. On average, households spent 1.6 percent of their income on education in 2001. But by 2014, the percentage had skyrocketed to 3.7 percent. In major cities, like Marrakech, Rabat, Fez, and others, the increase in education costs has been even more pointed, reaching 4.4 percent, according to the High Commissioner for Planning (HCP).Part of the reason for the “rapid increase” in education-related costs is that Moroccan households are increasingly resorting to private schools to make up for the declining quality of teaching and curriculum in public schools. Private school education brings ‘social prestige’In 2017, private schools accounted for 87 percent of preschool enrolments and 16.7 percent of primary school enrolments. The percentage of primary school students in private school was a mere 4.4 percent in 2011, indicating that the perceived social difference between a private and public school diploma has reached new heights in recent years.Many Moroccan parents perceive a good education for their children—generally in French medium private institutions—as the surest way to climb high in the social ladder. And since private schools are aware of the value and social prestige that their services represent to most Moroccan parents, there is high probability that schooling costs will only get higher in coming years, the report noted.Whereas private schools have attracted more pupils in the last decade, prices have not decreased. In fact, between 2007 and 2017, school fees in private institutions have tripled when compared to the pace of price fluctuations in other sectors, according to BAM. Commodity prices experienced an inflation rate of 15 percent in the last decade, while education-related costs jumped by 44 percent. Specifically, preschool fees increased by 53 percent between 2007 and 2017, while primary school, high school, and university fees increased by 27 percent.BAM’s “concerning” figures confirmed findings late last month by a government-sponsored assessment of Moroccan schools’ performance. The report noted that children from lower levels of socio-economic status are increasingly dropping out of school, perpetuating the deep-seated socio-economic chasm between those with prestigious diplomas and the rest—the large majority of Moroccans.