Thousands of students protested Friday in Morocco for the third consecutive day against a government decision to keep its clocks at summer time year round, local media reported.

Pupils who now have to get up before sunrise to get to school denounced "a shameful decision" and a "farce", demonstrating in several cities, according to newspapers and social media.

On October 26, the government decided to abandon plans to switch to winter time and kept the clocks in the North African country at GMT+1.

Avoiding the switch saves "an hour of natural light", administrative reform minister Mohammed Ben Abdelkader said at the time.

The decision also reduces electricity consumption, he was quoted as saying by official news agency MAP.

The last-minute decision took many by surprise and sparked outrage and confusion, as the electronic devices of many Moroccans switched automatically from summer to winter time.

Parents complained that their children had to leave home for school when it was still dark outside.

A spokesman for the education ministry told AFP on Friday that schools have been authorised to adjust their timetables "according to the needs of each region".

On Thursday Prime Minister Saad Eddine el Othmani said the government would be sticking with summer time, although it would set up a "mechanism to evaluate and follow up" on the decision.

The European Commission in August announced a proposal to abolish switching to winter time in 2019, but EU transport ministers have said the move is not realistic and that disagreement remained over how to implement the idea.