THE 130 MILLION
Raising a family and living in a developed nation: one with modern amenities, a plethora of transport systems (that generally provide an accurate and efficient service for millions of commuters), retail arcades and products that adorn our homes for both useful and utterly useless purposes; not often enough to we consider how inaccessible a secondary school is for millions of others.
Small Berber villages are scattered across valleys and sliced into the slopes of steep mountains, tens of miles away from the nearest school. The roads are unserviceable: they are not wide, flat, solid pavements, nor made from the layers of gravel and asphalt like our own. Most female children are relied on to assist their mother and family with domestic duties in place of an education. Even if she were encouraged to attend classes, there is not the basic infrastructure to ensure she could make the journey.
Is it any wonder then, that illiteracy in women from remote parts of Morocco is a staggering 90% while for many, primary school is about all the education they will receive before they marry during their adolescence.
British-Moroccan NGO, Education For All (EFA Morocco) has addressed the problem by constructing boarding houses next door to secondary schools, that are operated by live-in Berber women. The girls are provided daily meals, homework support as well as English and French language studies. The program has a remarkable pass rate of 97% across all academic levels.
The UNESCO-led global movement presently serves 260 girls from villages in the Atlas Mountains and is offered on a selection basis. The program supports girls academically and emotionally as the social transition is quite unlike anything the girls have ever known.
Due to the success of the program, EFA-Morocco is now considering its extension for graduates who will attend university in Marrakech. Fortunately, the Moroccan Government subsidizes the university fees.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are regular visitors and are welcomed to Asni Boarding House by the girls. In an earlier visit, a pregnant Rachel Meghan Markle was given a traditional Moroccan henna tattoo, which is intended to bring good fortune to her child.
Kensington Palace said the charity Education For All has “given girls from the poorest villages and most remote areas of Morocco areas the chance to reach their potential and contribute to Morocco’s continued development.”
Education For All (Morocco)
Kensington Palace as published by The Guardian
Cover Image by Jeff Shea – Berber 1988
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