High school dropout rates in Morocco are alarmingly high. In rural southwest Morocco, girls and women face a variety of cultural, economic, and political barriers to education. On Day 14 of the 16 Days of Activism, Dar Si Hmad reflects on those obstacles and how our E-Learning program is helping Berber girls overcome them.
Dar Si Hmad’s fog harvesting project pipes potable water collected from fog to five Berber villages in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. The remote, impoverished region of Aït Baamrane has limited access to information and educational infrastructure. Girls from these villages travel to the small nearby town of Mesti in order to pursue secondary education. These young women are often the first people in their families to learn how to read and write, let alone attend higher education. Morocco’s multilingual nature creates yet another barrier, as exams and official business are conducted in Arabic or French but children in rural communities grow up speaking Tachelhit, the indigenous language of the Amazigh (Berber) people. Traditional gender norms do not emphasize the importance of education, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, for women. These challenges reduce the success rate for Berber girls taking their national high school exams.
|Girls in southwest Morocco receive expert tutoring via ICT|
through Dar Si Hmad's Girls' E-Learning Program.
The remote location of their school makes educational
opportunities hard to come by and increases exam difficulty.
Exams in Morocco are mandatory for high school seniors and juniors. They are cumulative, summing up all of the lessons over the entire year, and take a great deal of preparation. In urban cities in Morocco, students generally take extra classes to study for major tests. This is not a financial or logistical option for girls in remote villages. Electronic access to mock exams helps to shrink the gap between rural and urban resources. Tutors who can provide support and coach girls on techniques for coping with exam stress and fright are a valuable and otherwise unavailable resource.
Girls have to pass these exams in order to go on to university. Without adequate support, the male-female and rural-urban educational divides in Morocco will never be overcome. Increasing access to education for girls is a powerful way to improve lives, advance gender equality, and strengthen communities. Girls’ lives are changed as they successfully finish high school with a wide range of skills, empowered to seek further opportunities. These girls are in turn changing their own villages and Moroccan culture, leveraging female education for community growth.
Dar Si Hmad is now expanding the project to reach more students in more villages. Supporting the Girls’ E-Learning Program gives a first generation Berber girl the chance to expand her horizons. For more information or to partner with Dar Si Hmad in this work, please see the Girls E-Learning homepage.
This post is part of Dar Si Hmad’s 2015 #16Days Campaign to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.