Two recent USAID reports highlight the support Morocco received both during and after the state of emergency lockdown measures.
Rabat – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) published two recent reports outlining the COVID-19 support that the US-government-led organization is facilitating in Morocco.
USAID is providing various forms of social assistance, including food security programs, distance learning support for deaf and hard of hearing students, and psychosocial services.
According to the reports published on June 25 and June 26, while Morocco was well prepared to support certain populations, offer the resources needed to sustain certain educational opportunities, and protect public health during the pandemic, the country’s population faced significant struggles.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the livelihoods, social dynamics, and service provision in underserved urban neighborhoods in Morocco. Cramped lodgings hold families and idle breadwinners in forced confinement, producing spikes in domestic violence, despair, as well as increased food insecurity,” read the report.
‘Enhancing food security and social assistance in northern Morocco’
Under the eased state of emergency measures, USAID’s Favorable Opportunities to Reinforce Self-Advancement for Today’s Youth (FORSATY) program is able to provide more direct aid and response to those reeling from the repercussions of a lengthy lockdown.
The FORSATY program is addressing the basic need for food security by providing food baskets to families in need. “Food basket distribution began in June 2020, and as many as 20,000 baskets, providing food supplies to families in need, will be provided through July 2020,” the report explains.
In addition to offering food baskets, the program is also distributing prepaid phone and internet cards, allowing families to access opportunities that they would otherwise be unable to afford. The connectivity assistance supports youth carrying out distance learning courses provided by the Moroccan government and allows for young people over 18 to take part in distance activities organized by USAID volunteers.
Access to internet and phone services also supports virtual psychosocial support efforts. One mother in Tetouan receiving USAID support said: “My daughters Yousra and Bethania both suffered nightmares from fear of the virus and the stress of confinement. They are calm and serene now thanks to phone sessions with the social worker.”
USAID/Morocco supports distance learning for deaf and hard of hearing students
Published on June 25, USAID reported Morocco’s efficient shift toward distance learning in order to uphold the educational structure and expand technological opportunities.
“In March 2020, Morocco’s Ministry of National Education, Vocational Training and Scientific Research (MOE) shifted to digital learning to ensure continuity of learning for its seven million students in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
A variety of distance learning resources were made available for the students. The Ministry quickly multiplied its efforts to make distance learning accessible to all.”
While expanding on Morocco’s noteworthy efforts to provide quality content across all subjects and levels, the report highlighted the country’s initial failure to include deaf and hard of hearing students in educational programs.
“To all? Not quite. As these distance learning tools were rolled out, concerns were soon raised that deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) students, representing over 2,000 schooled children and youth who count among the 10,000 Moroccan students with sensory impairments, were being left behind,” the report noted.
USAID spotlighted the necessity and challenges faced for distance learning materials to be translated into Moroccan Sign Language (MSL). However, said the Ministry was “well prepared to rise to the challenge thanks to the USAID project Improving Deaf Children’s Reading through Technology activity (2015-2018)…”
Approximately $400,000 USAID funds were redirected to support the COVID-19 response initiative. On May 27 Morocco’s Ministry of Solidarity and Social Development announced it’s launch of a series of classes for students with special needs.
Mina Daoudi, a sign language interpreter who helped translate lessons to MSL for recorded video lessons told USAID there is a great need for virtual deaf education materials that are Morocco context-appropriate.