By Radia Baiti
By Radia Baiti
Morocco World News
Rouen, France, July 16, 2013
Morocco suffers from a high illiteracy rate—30% in 2013—but the problem is most predominant among the rural population of Morocco. This segment of society has an approximate illiteracy rate of 55%. Within these regions, children do not receive a quality education or do not even complete their studies. Ultimately, those who leave lack the education and qualifications for a successful future. In order to determine the shortcomings of the educational system within villages, a group of volunteers contributed their time to assess the learning capabilities of the children of Ighil N’baha village. As a group of volunteers, Hasnaa Alami idrissi, Nadir Naji, Houssine Moubtakir and I had a great experience at Ighil N’baha village which allowed us to analyze this problem and to make our contribution to handle the educational shortcomings of Morocco’s small towns.
We highlight several factors which contribute to such shortcomings. The primary source is the working conditions. The school is several miles from the village and the children do not have a mode of transportation to go to school, especially during difficult weather conditions, such as heavy rain. Najlaa. Z is an Elementary student expressed her frustration: “I find it hard to get to our school since it is far from our village, about 1 hour walk. And sometimes during Winter we might miss school up to a week.” This problem is more common for high school students whose school is one hour from home. In addition, students sit at crowded tables, initially intended for only two students. This lack of structure is a source of discouragement for both the students and the instructor.
Another negative aspect of the educational system within a rural setting is the constant absence of the instructor, according to the students. Because of this absence, the children only receive about two months of formal education within an entire school year. Therefore, the level of learning is minimal and basic learning of subjects such as language and mathematics is not acquired. For example, after giving French lessons at different levels, the volunteers observed that the level of understanding among these students is globally alarming—elementary students have nothing to envy of their peers in secondary school, as the level of learning is extremely low for all students. Ideally, hiring additional instructors would alleviate the issue as it is impossible for one instructor to take on such a difficult task alone.
Additionally, the students do not benefit from supervision. As mentioned previously, they are frequently left to themselves and go from one class to another without having acquired a sufficient knowledge base. They have no real source of inspiration and find it difficult to look forward and consider their futures. The lack of extracurricular activities exemplifies this as they do not have an outlet for exploring other skill sets. This has a negative impact on their motivation and dynamism. Thus, the girls return to the house and start housework and the boys spend their time playing football.
All of these problems observed during this mission, such as the amount of children dropping out of school, can be traced back to other factors. For example, the girls leave studies to do housework for the mere prospect of marriage in the future. The family pressure on these girls is high because culturally girls are not expected to be financially independent. “Most of the girls drop out of school after college and stay at home. Also our parents fear to let us finish our studies far from home and culturally don’t want us to work,” said Naima, a student at the university of Ibn Zohr in Agadir.
The current challenge is to make education available to the rural population of Morocco and to reduce the national illiteracy rate. Therefore, there is a responsibility to ensure favorable conditions for both children and instructors, to adapt the Arabized educational program depending on the region (in this case Amazigh) and invest into the future of these children as they are the future of Morocco. Our experience in the field allowed us to revive their thirst for knowledge and accomplishment, but we also hope the government and civil society will take an active role in the prioritization of education in the development of Morocco.
In addition to the aforementioned volunteers, volunteers from United for Service and Volunteer Morocco, US based nonprofit organizations, have collaborated with their Moroccan counterpart, Jamiaan Association to establish a one-year pilot program, the Teacher Endowment Fund. Through financial support, they created such a program specifically for the children of Ighil N’baha to support the salary of an after school tutor for French and mathematics in order to ensure they receive additional education and ultimately impact their desire for knowledge.
As an immediate solution we need: students in college, young professionals or teachers who can volunteer their time to teach in rural areas during breaks or weekend. If you are interested you can contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Radia Baiti is a Moroccan student at Rouen business school in France
Photos by Ayoub El Madi