A UN Population Fund report shows a 14% rate of child marriage in Morocco between 2005 and 2019.
Rabat – Morocco’s Minister of National Education Saaid Amzazi emphasized the persistence of child marriage in Morocco at an event held on Thursday in Marrakech.
The official made his remarks during the official inauguration of the implementation of the partnership agreement of March 1, 2021, between the ministry and the President of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The agreement vows commitment to implementing the Marrakech Declaration to End Violence Against Women, which was signed on March 8, 2020 during a ceremony chaired by Princess Lalla Meryem.
During his statement, Amzazi acknowledged that child marriage figures prominently among the causes of school dropout.
He said both challenges are part of a two-way relationship.
“Early school dropout and illiteracy cause early marriage,” Amzazi said.
The official cited his department’s “considerable” efforts to encourage students not to leave schools through supporting education and the actions to expand beneficiaries of social support programs. Such actions improve the attractiveness of school and reduce overcrowding in classrooms, which have led to a “constant reduction in the school dropout rate,” the minister said.
The minister also acknowledged that the statistics and outcomes are not “satisfactory.”
He said 10% of children between 11 and 15 years old leave school each year, especially in secondary school.
“This causes a constant increase in the number of children out of school and the waste of human capital that the country desperately needs to meet the development challenges, which requires concerted efforts and collective mobilization to eradicate this phenomenon.”
The minister gave examples, citing statistics of school dropouts in the Marrakech-Safi region.
He said that nearly 26,000 students, including 12,357 girls, leave primary and secondary school, including 72% in rural areas.
Education facilities in rural areas are one of the challenges Morocco faces, according to several reports.
Some students drop out of school due to the long distance they have to walk every day to reach school, including in the Atlas Mountains.
Cold snaps have made the situation even more difficult for rural areas.
The COVID-19 crisis increased disparities in Morocco. During the 2019-2020 academic year, Morocco adopted a remote education program due to the health measures it adopted in March 2020.
Students in remote areas suffered a lack of resources to pursue distance learning.
The ministry put in place classes through national television channels to reduce the pandemic’s impact on education.
For the 2020-2021 school year, Morocco has adopted a remote education program. However, parents have the option to choose whether they want to send their children to school for in-person classes.
The 2019-2020 academic year witnessed dropouts estimated at 55,200 students at the three education levels.
President of the Public Prosecutor’s Office Mohamed Abdennabaoui also spoke about school dropouts, calling for education for all.
The official vowed that he has looked into the problem of child marriage, emphasizing that the phenomenon imposes direct damages to a child and their fundamental rights to education, health, and healthy development within the family.
A report from the UN Population Fund shows a 14% child marriage rate in Morocco between 2005 and 2019.
Morocco’s Family Code stipulates that the legal minimum age of marriage is 18. The issue of underage marriage persists despite efforts.