Meet the women changing education in rural Morocco

For girls in rural Morocco, the chance of continuing onto secondary school proves difficult. There's an organization in the High Atlas Mountains working to change those statistics.

For girls in rural Morocco, the chance of continuing onto secondary school proves difficult. Accessibility to school is a challenge. Mix that with extreme poverty and the cultural pressures for women to not work outside the household, and the dream of school can be a distant fantasy.

Going onto university is an even further reach. Even for families who encourage continuing education for their daughters, the secondary schools are located in larger towns — which can be problematic due to a limited budget and transportation challenges.

While the Moroccan government provides opportunities for all children to attend school from primary through university, in the rural areas of the country, the statistics show that not everyone is benefiting. In certain regions of Morocco, up to 80% of women are illiterate. Global statistics show that by educating women in the community, not only is it empowering, but it is economically and socially beneficial.

So, with limited resources, how can these girls advance? There is an organization in the High Atlas Mountains working to change those statistics. Education for All Morocco (EFA) is a nonprofit organization created to provide boarding and support for girls from the ages of 12 to 18 to attend secondary school. EFA provides a space where the girls are guaranteed a clean, safe home to stay during the school week. It’s a place where advancement, education, religion, and camaraderie are a priority.

High Atlas mountains of Morocco Very few girls from rural communities in Morocco get the opportunity to continue their education after primary school. (Photo: EFA Morocco)

EFA began in 2007 with a group of just 36 girls. While the project at its inception was small, it quickly developed to become a world renowned continuing education project. At present, there are five boarding houses, which give just over 200 girls a chance for greatness.

EFA is more than just a boarding school though. It is a home away from home, providing nutritious meals and structured schedules. Each house has a permanent staff, which quickly feels like an extension of family. There is a cook, cleaner, and house mother all present to ensure every girl is getting all she needs to succeed.

In addition, there are volunteers who provide additional support with language learning, women’s health, computers, and other coursework complementary to their studies. This year alone had several successes that show the triumphs of the organization. More than 90% of EFA girls passed their BAC, an exam used in France as a determination for graduation. In addition, three ladies were selected for scholarships to attend the University of Casablanca.

female student studies in morocco Apart from a paid housemother, assistants and cooks, there are no local administrative expenses as both the committee and volunteers work on a voluntary basis. (Photo: EFA Morocco)

What is exceptional about the volunteer program is that the applicants are heavily vetted to ensure the girls are provided with the best ancillary services. A minimum time commitment and the ability to converse in French are two of the many ways that those who wish to participate in the EFA program are held to a higher standard.

Volunteers enrich the students' lives in multiple ways while living with them in their boarding homes. Nurses share women’s hygiene and reproductive health advice, linguists help facilitate English as a second language, and IT professionals assist with computer skills.

EFA also allows for sponsorships and fundraising as a means to continue to make this program accessible for more girls in rural areas. As more and more girls from rural villages pursue their aspirations towards higher education, a wave of intellectual, determined women will surely inspire others to follow their lead.

Abbie Synan writer pic

Bio: Abbie is a writer and blogger who has been traveling and working remotely since 2013. She specializes in highlighting ethical travel practices, which include wildlife conservation, environmentally friendly travel and being a more mindful global citizen. After visiting over 70 countries, she is still in search for cultural experiences, tasty dishes and unique stories to share one spot at a time. You can follow her travel journey on her blog, Speck on the Globe, where she shares tips on how to travel more responsibly.

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