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Morocco, officially known as the Kingdom of Morocco is a country located in the Maghreb region of North Africa, with a total land area of just under 172, 500 square miles.  The country, which includes the disputed region of Western Sahara, seen by and mostly administered by Morocco as the Southern Provinces, is border by Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania and Libya, with which it shares many cultural, linguistic and historical ties. Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with a parliament that is elected by the people, and is ruled by a King who holds vast executive authority.  The political capital and government seat of morocco is Rabat, but the country’s largest city is Casablanca.
 
As of the last official census taken in the country, Morocco had an estimated population of 32 million, of whom over 99 percent are of Arab-Berber ethnicity.  The foreign population of Morocco, roughly 100,000 people, is made up of European expatriates, primarily from France and Spain.
 
The two official languages of Morocco are Arabic and Tamazight, both of which are used for official purposes in government, commerce, media and education in different regions of the country, although Tamazight is now seen as a minority language.  Most Moroccans speak either Moroccan Arabic or Berber as a first language, both of which have regional dialects and distinct accents.  Hassaniya Arabic is also spoken natively in the southern part of the country by a small minority of the population.  Over 99 percent of the Moroccan population practices the Sunni branch of the Islam religion.
 
Education in Morocco
 
Education in Morocco is overseen by the national government, which creates educational policy and develops the national curriculum.  Education is free for all residents and compulsory for children between the ages of seven and thirteen, the years that comprise a student’s primary education.  The system itself is divided between three distinct levels:  primary education, secondary education and tertiary or higher education.
 
Primary education in Morocco begins at age 6 and spans 7 years, culminating for most at age 13.  Initially the curriculum focuses on reading and writing instruction, but in the later grades subjects such as mathematics, religious studies, Arabic, science, history, social and cultural studies, physical education and fine arts are added.
 
Secondary education is not compulsory and is attended by only about 60 percent of the students who complete their primary education.  There are two educational tracks offered at this level:  general or academic and vocational.  The general secondary education track focuses on academic subjects that help prepare students for university admission.  Vocational education provides students with the knowledge and skills they need to enter the workforce upon graduation.
 
There are fourteen public universities in Morocco attended by approximately 230,000 students.  Eligible students can earn undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in most major academic fields.  Specialty schools, such as those for medical and dental students, also exist in the country and are usually operated as a branch of one of the universities.
 
Although Morocco allocates one-fifth of its total budget to education, the country still faces many educational challenges.  Enrollment rates are well below the global average at every level, and cultural bias prevents many female students from gaining any type of education whatsoever.  As a result, Morocco has a national adult literacy rate that has been stuck at about 50 percent for the last decade, 66% for males and only about 40% for females.

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