Posted by: alcrabat | 24 February 2010

What is it like to be a Moroccan teenager?

Being a teenager isn’t easy at all, but being a Moroccan one makes things even harder!

By: Bilal Z, Advanced 3, Age: 18

Some say that you get the best out of life when you are young, that you have all the time in the world, that you don’t have any responsibilities, that you’re as healthy as you will be. Well, maybe you can enjoy all those things in another country, but not in Morocco. Unless you belong to a well known family or your parents are rich, there are so many things you’re going to have to deal with.

I’m not trying to make excuses; I believe that one should do everything to “fight the system” and find their own “great path”. However what I want to talk about are problems that Moroccan teenagers have to face. Analyzing these problems can make us aware of what we, as teenagers, are missing. In fact, our society isn’t conscious of the reality that teens can contribute to our country’s development in an unexpected way. We all agree that teens are full of energy, creativity, and imagination; so why not adapt those qualities to constructive fields?

Applying those qualities to the society’s good is held back by the current status of Moroccan teens. Actually, as a Moroccan teenager, you are always neglected, and I really mean always. When it comes to decisions, responsibilities, or even discussions, the teenager is not welcomed. As a matter of fact, no one takes into consideration your opinions or believes. For them, you are nothing but a “kid” who has no experience and doesn’t understand how the world works.

But the bright side is that this problem is universal in countries across the world. This lack of communication between generations (in which the only victim is the teen who is forced to shut up because of his short experience in life) can cause a lot of issues—but teens have to express themselves somehow! Some choose violence, others drugs. In my case, I tend to express myself online, because when you are on the net all that matters is your username and what you have to say. Only there do I feel that I can escape this ageism. But if this age discrimination leads to anything, it will be misunderstanding; how can an adult understand a teen if this teen is neglected intellectually, emotionally, and as a rational human being? That’s why teenagers all around the world agree: Adults don’t understand us. Everyone is familiar with scenes from all kinds of movies where angry adolescents climb up stairs saying, “I hate you!” or “What do you know!” However, we have certain factors that contribute to increasing this gap of viewpoints. Let’s take the concept of the father in our Moroccan tradition. As an example, customs put a halo around his head; he should be considered as someone who doesn’t make mistakes, who knows about everything, whose speech is a perfect one. But the truth is that a father is a human being and a family member, whose role should be more or less flexible with the demands of the family. To sum up, giving the father an inherent and an unquestioned force over his children’s opinions, action, and beliefs can only enlarge the gap that we’ve already talked about.

Enough talking about global relationships between adults and teenagers; let’s take a pure Moroccan teen’s problem and discuss it. The future. Not all teens around the world worry about their future the way Moroccans do. First, every Moroccan teen has learned, in one way or another, to think about whether he/she is going to find a job or not. Our society has suffered from unemployment so much that escaping it has become our number one priority. Also we can’t deny that most Moroccans judge people based on what they have, what they do for living, etc. That’s why if you’re unemployed or redundant, you have no positive place in this society. Everyone will look at you with pity.

Even pursuing studies after high school is not as easy as it may seem. Making the choice (if we can call that a “choice”) between studying abroad and staying here doesn’t depend only on the teen’s academic status, but on his financial and social ones. So a teen can’t help it. For studying abroad the reason is very simple: affording the cost of living and studying there with no financial aid, scholarships, loans is impossible for a typical Moroccan teen. Those that can afford education abroad seize that opportunity. But for studying here, things get complicated. If you end up at a public university, you’ll suffer from two things: lack of opportunities and stereotyping. Even if the student has some bright future after completing his studies, his parents or friends will depress him (probably in his first year) through saying unwarranted things like “Unemployment is waiting for you” or “You’re wasting your time.” If the teen’s parents are middle class and manage a way to pay for his studies in a private school, he’ll face other problems. As you know the concept of private schools in Morocco is way different from elsewhere. Except from a few ones, private schools are not very selective and do not provide their students with practical diplomas nor training, which leaves us with few other public school possibilities (ENSA,“Prépas”…).

Teens can also have a bad influence on each other, which leads us to talk about a problem that concerns the teen community as a whole. First the gap between adults and teens isolates and disconnects the teenage community from the other communities within society, because without parents’ supervision and positive interaction, teens start to create and to be involved in their own world made up of teenagers. Ultimately, this lack of communication, mutual understanding, and education isolates teens’ experience, and arms us with a weak resistance against alcohol, drugs, crime, smoking, etc. Thus, this forced community can cause a multiplicity of unanticipated problems. Second, the negative creation of an ill-educated, youthful community prone to commit societal crimes further supports parents’ ideas about teens as immature, brainless, unreliable and dishonest. So, instead of trying to handle, control or even avoid their sons or daughters from becoming addicted, they overlook and refuse to deal with these individuals like people.

These problems are only a small sample of what a teen has to go through everyday. However, saying that “It is not easy to be a Moroccan teenager” is not enough; we should look for solutions. I know that it’s hard to find solutions to such entrenched problems, but admitting is always the first step. We must admit that we are participating in making society worse through passively accepting this relationship. We are lazy. We don’t read. We are not looking to become active. We are apart of the solution for what’s best for our society but we do nothing. Teens may find this article reconciliatory, but this is not the point.

What I want to say is that we must do something to show those that don’t believe in us that we can participate in starting a major inside out change in this society. And we can begin by reading. It should be absolutely unusual for a teen not to read a book at least every two months. Then, we should all have a clear objective in life that we will strive and do our best to achieve. After that, every one of us has to look for an association or a way to become an active citizen. And finally we have to know what is happening in the world, and also have our own opinions, ideas and believes that we have to stand up for. Teenagers are full of life but they are inactive in society. It’s true that they are neglected, misunderstood, negatively influenced by their environment, and don’t have good opportunities for the future, but the fact remains that we don’t do anything to make things better. After all, Morocco isn’t so proud of its teens either. However it’s never too late, we can start right now, and every one of us should question and reconsider his and her lifestyle. Only then can we join the 21st century, and live the life that we have all dreamed of.


  1. With Ms.Kacie’s amazing help and reviews. Thanks.

    • This has somewhat bias, Moroccan teenage life isnt all that bad.

  2. Well, Bilal. Morocco has every right to be proud of a Moroccan teenager like yourself. You’ve expressed yourself here eloquently and with excellent command of the language, and your points are well taken. With young people like yourself taking a leadership role and showing you can help shape the direction of the country’s future and be a productive member of this society, it’s only natural that the tradition of giving less credence to teenagers will eventually give way. Your potential contributions to society are valuable, to be sure. Thank you for your contribution to this dialogue.

  3. Thank you Mr.Ott. It really means a lot to me. But let’s not forget that the ALC is what made this happen. I mean I was extremely lucky to have Mrs.Kacie as my teacher and editor; and to benefit from such a supportive administration’s help. So It’s with teachers’ and the administration’s support that the students of the ALC will express themselves. Because I’m sure that they got a lot to say.

  4. Wow. I never knew this is what it is like in Morocco. I live in America, and I’m doing a Social studies report about Morocco, and one of my required questions to answer is, “Describe a Typical Day in the life of a student your age.” so this is very helpful thank you. You speak you mind very clearly. 🙂

  5. i was reading with tears in my eyes .Im so glad to find that im not the only moroccan teen who feels neglected misunderstood and totally ignored. if this is what a moroccan teenager boy go through you can only imagine how is it for a GIRL .

    • That’s make us two hun

  6. As a young adult, i have had (and passed) these kind problems(somehow or another) but i can say that i’ve been “noticing” these problems more, and clearly.

    as you said, as a teenager you expect that your parents(or adults in general) are the absolute and are always right, nothing is wrong with them. so if something happens it’s probably our fault. but as time passed you will slowly but surely find a middle ground, “maybe.. just maybe you’re actually smarter than them?”

    my point is, what gives you value is yourself, not others.

    over all, i think that the practical solution is to apply what our parents couldn’t , to our future children, to ensure a better life & a better psyche for the next generations. after all, i’m sure that our parents had to deal with even worse than what we’re dealing with. so it’s a small progress, but a progress nevertheless.

    signing out~

  7. like it well done

  8. i agree with you brother you are right because i am also a teenager and i have some problems with my family my environment that don’t help to express youself easiely without fear but i always keep thinking with an optimistic way to not kill my actif personality and to not give this dark society the chance to stop my creative power

  9. Love this post. I so much want to help those young Moroccans who maybe can’t afford to get an education somewhere like ALC – I’m an English teacher in the UK – how can I help you guys? Sending you my support and love. ❤

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