Limited social security, unemployment... in Morocco, young people aged 15-34, make up a third of the population, yet research shows that they are the most neglected. Despite the difficulties young people across the country are showing a strong desire for change. This can be seen in the world of rap, with popular songs such as "Vive le peuple" (Aach al chaab, in Moroccan dialect) which now has more than 13 million views on Youtube. The track, which features slogans chanted in the stadiums, denounces "injustice" and "the monopolisation of wealth". But what are the challenges and opportunities for young people who lead a politically active life in Morocco? On the occasion of International Youth Day, Abdel Abdelhakim Chafiai, advisor at Espace Associatif, member of Forus in Morocco, shares his thoughts on how to integrate young people into civil society.
Breaking out of traditional patterns
Young people play a fundamental role in any social dynamic, thanks to their youth, thanks to their dynamism, thanks to their ability to break out of traditional patterns. They are a force for renewal, for sustainability. Without young people, we cannot improve the performance of our ageing structures and processes.
The youth is not fully integrated in the various existing political and social structures for several reasons. Notably because of the strong presence of elderly people at the head of youth associations, which ultimately results in young people’s weak involvement. The role young people can play in society is important and, paradoxically, as of today in Morocco, there is no real policy of integration in associative or political life.
Despite these challenges, certain measures have been taken across the country. At a political level, a project has been set up to include young people in the form of a list. This list, however, is currently heavily criticised by some as a form of "bluff", since the criteria defined were not set by the young people themselves. The risk is an instrumentalization of youth, rather than a real integration of young people into political life.
Refresh and mobilize
In the associative space, we have noticed difficulties in mobilizing young people. First of all, civil society associations (CSOs) themselves suffer from a lack of realistic and renewed offers for young people. The current educational model does not include civic values, volunteering or commitment. It is mainly oriented towards performance and competition, conditions borrowed from the market economy and placed in the education system, which hamper the notion of citizenship in the pedagogical approach.
The notions of civil engagement and volunteering are outdated, so civil society organisations have a real job to do in this respect, so that young people have confidence in the role they can play and hope for their future.
The rights of children and young people
Developing youth engagement begins in childhood. There are now just a few existing associations for children in which they have the possibility to engage in collective action. At the level of State infrastructures, there used to be "houses for young people and children" where they could engage in sports or other recreational activities, but these places have often been converted into large buildings or taken over by the private sector, and it is now necessary to pay for such activities.
The current development model is not based on the rights of children or young people; on the contrary, we are in a productive logic that risks demobilizing young people and can lead to waves of migration that also threaten the sustainability of societies.
The role of youth is important at all levels, it is normally at this age that one gets involved, develops good habits and joins associations and organizations. It is also the time when one builds one's professional and personal projects. Younger generations are therefore crucial to build society at large as well as civil society.
There are many examples where youth has demonstrated its strength of proposal and commitment in Morocco, such as the online movement against corruption, or creative activism through music and rap. There is an urgent need to support this energy and to give more means and space to young people so that they can shape their world of tomorrow today.
Photo collage: Midia Ninja, Hamza Tighza & AFP Photo/Fadel Senna