Improving Access to Education in Rural Morocco

Quarzazate Province, Morocco—Building on a successful model that the Near East Foundation has utilized since 2006, the Near East Foundation UK and its local partner, the Tichka Association, are working to improve access to education for primary students in rural Morocco. Through a multifaceted approach, we are accomplishing this goal by strengthening parent-teacher associations, designing child-led extra-curricular activities, and engaging disadvantaged parents to enroll and send their children regularly to school.

Since October 2015, NEF UK has worked with 14 communities in the Telouet Commune in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco to mobilize and organize parents into parents associations. Tangible impacts have already been made on primary school children’s access to education and well-being.

Working in partnership with the Moroccan Ministry of Education Local Delegation, the project team facilitated the creation of five new parent associations, activated three associations, and formed three parent committees as incumbents for new associations. One of the newly formed parent associations supports the Ouzlim satellite primary school—a school with unsuitable water facilities.

When the team first assessed the Ouzlim primary school, the toilets and drinking water facilities were in very inapt conditions due to deliberate stoppage of the water supply. Unable to use the facilities in these conditions, the children were being exposed to health and hygiene hazards. This problem created a barrier for school attendance—a key issue that NEF aims to address.

To uncover reasons why the water facilities were sub-standard, NEF conducted an assessment, which revealed that community-based conflicts were the cause of the issue; particularly in relation to the sub-communities of Oufdrik, Daou Touarite, and Albour where the water source is located. While some association members attributed this to the recent elections and divergent political affiliations, others pointed to the high cost of maintaining the water supply and overdue payments.

The three communities were unwilling to discuss ways to solve the problem—leaving the toilets and the drinking water facilities unusable and hazardous. As a result of these issues in the primary school, attendance and children’s interest in education decreased.

To resolve this problem, NEF and its local partners helped to form a new association comprised of representatives from all communities—including rival communities. Parents and community members came together to engage in productive discussions on how to solve the water supply issue and its negative impact on children’s health and education. The solution that was ultimately negotiated tasked the parents association with co-managing the facilities and collectively covering the costs of the water supply through contributions from all parents.

Now that the water supply has resumed, the toilets and drinking water facilities are clean and functional, and the children are able to access them free of risk—improving school attendance and interest in learning.

NEF’s work to improve access to and the quality of primary education for 2,100 poor girls and boys in villages in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains is funded by the BIG Lottery Fund. To date, 14 schools have been recruited to participate in the project and 11 Parent Associations have been formed or re-activated.

To read more about our work in Morocco, click here.

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