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Educall: Taking an Unconventional Approach to Education

Educall: Taking an Unconventional Approach to Education
Yassine Ettayal, co-founder of Educall assists a student in making his own musical instrument.

By Renee Sang

Rabat- Although Morocco is working to improve its education system and literacy rate, one of the contributors to this problem is the school attendance rate among students.

For many students, school has become more of a chore and less of a positive learning experience. Educall, a social enterprise located in Rabat is taking new and alternative approaches to education that allow youth to find it more enjoyable.

Created by Moroccans Yassine Ettayal and Nada Bouzid, Educall started as an idea in 2012 when the founders were university students and balancing their studies with volunteering in the education sector. Morocco World News spoke with co-founder and Operations Manager Ettayal about the organization and how it fits with the Moroccan education system.

A hands-on approach

Ettayal with an Educall volunteer.

“We are delivering modern techniques of teaching, modern techniques of accompanying kids. At the same time, working with underprivileged kids, orphans, in specific areas so that we can implement the same quality services for kids who can afford our services.”

He added, “Our vision for Educall is to bring fulfillment to kids and to do so we are aiming, or we are working to make education funny and an amusing process. This is the idea, we are working on gamifying education.”

Educall utilizes a very hands-on curriculum to keep students engaged. Educators use art, music, and technology to make lessons more enjoyable and pro-active. For example, history lessons may often be taught via a virtual reality (VR) system. “Usually, kids find it difficult to understand the history lesson or they find it boring… kids need to practice, need to live things to understand them.”

During the summer, kids may attend an educational summer camp, while during the academic year kids may come in after school to get a more individualized and creative form of learning outside of the public education system.

Ettayal stated that the volunteers and workers will often stay the whole day “working on developing the programs, on monitoring kids,” while lessons run from 4 p.m. until 8 or 9 p.m. Some of the activities that kids have gotten to participate in this summer include a girls’ empowerment camp, an interactive field trip to a local bakery, and a “Back to the Roots” farm trip to learn about food systems.

Alex Cummings is an American student interning at Educall for the summer. She conveyed her thoughts on Educall’s unconventional approach to education with Morocco World News.  

“I think it’s interesting and innovative. The student-centered approach they take is obviously effective. Kids are excited to learn and everyone is attentive—students and teachers…. They really are aware of where the education system is lacking and try to do everything they can to add what’s missing into their student’s life.”

Above and beyond a normal education

Ettayal stated that in Morocco, there is a lack of “the concept of goal or objective” within kids. The organization works to help students define these concepts and ultimately “prepar[e] kids to the future.”

They focus on separate aspects of educating kids, with one program designed to gamify the material that kids learn in school, while the other consists of an extracurricular system targeting three fields—technology and science, art and culture, and communication.

Educall goes beyond traditional schooling in that they also integrate valuable life lessons that into their material.

“We are also focusing on the culture part because we want kids to be open-minded. We want them to be tolerant, we want them to know that they are not the center of the world. There are other people that they need to respect, there are also other people that they need to know about so that they can live at ease and also the other people can also live at ease. This is the idea of what we are doing with them and it is applied to mathematics, science, languages.”

above: one of the walls painted at Educall’s center in Rabat

Improving the educational system

Ettayal urged that “education needs to follow the development and the progress of technology” in the twenty-first century. In addition, this involves improving the education not only through the students but all those involved in the system.

“We are convinced that if we work only with kids, [we are] isolated from the ecosystem, we won’t make great or huge results. Since we are aiming to bring fulfillment for kids, we are conscious that we need to work with the whole ecosystem—with kids, with parents, with teachers, with schools.”

Some of the ways in which the association works with students outside the program through other events, programs, and partnerships. For example, Educall delivers a seven-month training for teachers where they can be placed as ambassadors within schools afterwards.

They often hold events such as a Moroccan and American university exchanges to facilitate discussion between students of different educational backgrounds on the school system in their own country. In addition, career professionals are often invited to the center to speak to kids about the workforce. “We are also conscious that we can’t do it alone” said Ettayal.

For the future, Ettayal stated that Educall is not yet a final product, as they have plans to continue developing their role in the educational system. There may be plans to expand to more centers in Rabat and perhaps even all over Morocco.

Ettayal hopes that by eventually expanding out of their current apartment location they can create an environment where “kids can feel the center as their home…. This is the home where they can be creative, they can act naturally, they can be a kid.”

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