However, as special as this moment may be, it should certainly not stop us looking at the other side of the coin. After all, this pandemic has uncovered uncomfortable truths about the country's health policy with its "sectoral programmes" and "integrated plans", consistently lauded by one health minister after another for 20 years now.

The coronavirus has revealed the desolate reality of this sector, which the government previously considered unproductive. This recently led the government to cut health spending in the budget despite the fact that the health sector is notoriously dogged by problems. Here too, it demonstrated that it is in thrall to a policy of austerity and the rules of good governance.

The education sector did not come off well either when the government was left with no other choice but to agree a distance learning system. It did so because it feared a repeat of the scenario that arose in other countries where schools became incubators for the spread of the virus.

Shattering the illusion of digital learning in Morocco

This immediately revealed massive deficits at all levels: the country has neither the logistical capacities, the technical equipment, the appropriately qualified personnel, nor indeed all the other things that are needed to ensure the success of digital schooling.

The reality has shattered the illusion of digital learning propagated by the Ministry for Education. Ultimately, it has had to resort to national television channels to provide tuition. The spatial and social disparities within the Moroccan school system mean that so far, a digital approach to teaching seems hopeless.

Ever since the powers that be in Morocco began continuously rolling back the achievements of the "Moroccan Spring" – i.e. greater political awareness and participation – people have repeatedly warned of a ticking time bomb in Moroccan society. While the country's rulers still have enough scope to continue to work the political field using the same old methods they have always used – gerrymandering, media control and the manipulation of electoral lists – they have to take great care that it doesn't become too obvious on the democratic playing field.

Manipulative shadows

It's the same thing in the economic sector, where numbers and percentages are doctored and citizens are fed half-truths to keep up appearances.

On the other hand, civil society is setting boundaries for all of this: after all, policies based on patching things up here and there and intermittent injections of sedatives quickly lose their impact in such a society. The "Hirak movement" in the Rif region and the protests in Jerada and the southeast of the country are examples of how limited the government's scope for manipulation is on the civil society front.

The fact that the people of Morocco have responded with such maturity and responsibility to the protective measures introduced by the state to overcome this crisis is a historic moment for the country. They have shown themselves both willing and able to trust their state and its institutions as long as the latter embody real civic values and are more than just a ruling system.

Mohamed Taifouri

© 2020

Translated from the German by Aingeal Flanagan

More on this topic