ISU assists in building system of quality assurance in Moroccan higher education

March 29 2007


Having a system of quality assurance through national accreditation of education systems in the United States may be something we take for granted, but in Morocco, it's quite a new concept - a concept that is being studied, molded and implemented with the help of Indiana State University.

During Indiana State's spring break, several ISU administrators, faculty and staff, traveled to Morocco to get a closer look. They joined nearly 200 leaders in Moroccan education at an international conference on improving educational quality and developing a national accreditation system for the North African country. Their visit was part of an ongoing effort, launched in 2002, to help modernize that nation's K-12 and higher education systems, including private schools.

"The Moroccan national government has declared this period as the decade to reform education, especially higher education," said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs C. Jack Maynard, who led the ISU delegation. "They recognize the importance of developing a system of quality assurance that will enable Morocco to more fully participate in a global economy.

Maynard also commended the efforts of ISU President Lloyd W. Benjamin III, and his ability to build bridges to Morocco and its people.

"Our trip built on the excellent relationship that President Benjamin has established with the Ministry of Education and the president of Hassan II University – Mohammedia over the last five years," Maynard added. "More than 30 of our faculty and staff members have had significant and ongoing partnerships with aspects of their higher education system during this period of time. This trust was the reason they invited us to be at the table in these most important discussions."

Brad Balch, dean of ISU's College of Education: Damon Krug, assistant professor of educational and school psychology; and El-Houcin Chaqra, associate director of the International Affairs Center, joined Maynard in Morocco.

During the two-day conference, the discussions focused on topics such as the role of government in quality assurance, independent accreditation processes, organizational structures (national and institutional), quality assurance, evaluation, challenges and constraints, standards and indicators, among other items. A similar discussion was held on the campus of Hassan II University – Mohammedia on March 9 with the administration and faculty leadership of that campus.

Indiana State was a logical partner to respond to Morocco's needs in regard to establishing a strong accreditation framework. After all, ISU has a long-standing tradition of providing high-quality programs for its students. All of ISU's professional programs are nationally accredited. Furthermore, ISU also sponsored a project during the 2002-2004 period that focused on training administrators for leadership roles in higher education. That project was very successful and has resulted in numerous other projects being implemented. As many as eight initiatives are ongoing between ISU and Hassan II University – Mohammedia.

Besides ISU's long-time partner, Hassan II University - Mohammedia, others involved in the discussions included Commission on International and Trans-regional Accreditation (CITA), the international arm of the North Central Association, the leading education accreditation organization in the U.S. CITA's focus was more directed at K-12 education.

At the end of the week, President Rahma Bourqia, president of Hassan II University – Mohammedia, invited ISU officials to her campus for a follow-up workshop, which delved deeper into the possibility of ISU developing a pilot model for Hassan II that could later be used to form a national system of accreditation. Stakeholders from the Mohammedia and Casablanca campuses participated.

ISU is working on the accreditation effort at two levels, according to Maynard. First, ISU is working with President Bourqia and Hassan II to develop this pilot system, and secondly, the university is working with Latifa Tricha, secretary general of Morocco's Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and Morocco's national government to be a player with them as they develop a national system of quality assurance. Tricha is considering coming to the U.S. later this spring to discuss further plans and strategies, and President Bourqia is planning on a visit in early summer.

Because of the size and scope of the project, one way ISU may be able to assist right away is through capacity building, Balch said. Models, such as train-the-trainer, were discussed as a way to build the capacity within the Moroccan higher education system to move in this direction.

"One thing we know about accreditation is that no one size fits all," Balch said. "The closest we've come to that was identifying a common set of standards, but those key measurables or indicators for those standards look very different from country to country. So, while we might assist them with sketching an overall standards framework, they would really have to build consensus around what those indicators are going to be."

And, as if national accreditation wasn't a big enough issue to tackle, ISU administrators and Moroccan officials discussed and agreed upon other future partnerships and initiatives, which will clearly impact the future educational leadership of both countries, including:

• An interest in growing its higher education leadership training program. Building on the project ISU had piloted this a few years ago with great success; there is an interest in additional training focused primarily on the higher education leadership at the institutional level. Preliminary discussion focused on certificate programs and master's level programming focused on higher education leadership. "This is a reflection of their understanding of importance of and the commitment to preparing a new generation of leadership for their universities," said Maynard.

• An international student teaching experience in Morocco. ISU will be working with IU-Bloomington to provide this opportunity for our students. IU has had an international teacher education program in place for many years, but never have they had a partnership with Morocco. So, IU has invited ISU to serve in a guest capacity with their program, and we've opened the door to Morocco for all. Becky Libler, the College of Education's associate dean for outreach, is working to grow student teaching and other opportunities there. While this will extend the student teaching timeline a bit, Balch says it will be worth it. "I think the international teaching experience is long overdue, and it's exciting to be able to put this in place for our students." This opportunity will be rolled out in the fall of 2007.

So, what are the next steps?

Maynard and Balch are collecting a numerous documents related to our accreditation system to forward to Moroccan officials. They will also collect copies of institutional self-studies to provide them a more in-depth understanding of how our system works. Maynard will also consult with the leadership of the North Central Association to seek their support in assisting in this effort.

"ISU will begin preparation for our reaccreditation visit by NCA in 2010, and we have also invited President Bourqia to permit one of her faculty members or administrators to work with us as we move through this important event" Maynard said. "All of this is an outgrowth of the original partnership. It's recognition of our commitment to them and the trust that has developed on both sides of the Atlantic.

"As a result, we now have an opportunity to assist Moroccan leaders in their commitment to transform P-12 and higher education. What a marvelous opportunity!"


CONTACTS: C. Jack Maynard, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, (812) 237-2304; Brad Balch, Dean, ISU College of Education, (812) 237-2919; or El-Houcin Chaqra, associate director of the International Affairs Center at ISU, (812) 237-3085.

WRITER: Maria Greninger, associate director, Communications & Marketing, Indiana State University, (812) 237-4357 or 237-7972 (Tuesdays) or

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Story Highlights

Having a system of quality assurance through national accreditation of education systems in the United States may be something we take for granted, but in Morocco, it's quite a new concept - a concept that is being studied, molded and implemented with the help of Indiana State University.

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