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Education Support for Girls in Morocco (YDS)

Location: Morocco
Project type: youth development support
Price from: £1,760 - details below


This project provides opportunities for girls from  mountain villages to continue their education. Whilst helping the girls to reach their potential, as a volunteer you will learn about Berber communities in the stunningly beautiful High Atlas.


Skills required

We work closely with the local people who manage this project, and they have identified their primary volunteer needs.

Volunteers will be welcomed with any of the following skills and experience:

  • the girls have a real need to develop ability and confidence in English & French - conversation, composition and comprehension
  • TEFL / EFL / TESL experience would be especially welcome
  • teachers/classroom assistants in all subjects who could work with 11-18 year olds in small groups
  • staff working at the houses would welcome volunteers able to help them develop their own language skills, especially in conversational French and English
  • computer skills
  • life skills - particularly mentoring and supporting the girls in their studies and preparation for leaving school
  • skills in arts, crafts and/or music
  • English teachers
  • French teachers

Main project details

"If you educate a girl you educate the next generation as well".


This project is working with a charity that builds and runs girls' boarding houses near secondary colleges and lycées in the High Atlas Mountains, providing the opportunity for selected girls from villages across the region to continue their education.

Through the project's provision of boarding houses, girls gain access to a secondary education and the chance to fulfil their potential in an environment that promotes academic study and social understanding. The goal is to make a difference to the lives of these girls now, and thus change many more in the future.

This innovative project is also working towards Goal 3 of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG), specifically: to promote gender equality and empower women. The MDG Goal 3 target is to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, and in all levels of education no later than 2015.

As is often the case, the need for accommodation is greater than can be realistically provided. There are three criteria for each intake:

 Poverty - the family is too poor to consider other options;
 Distance - the family lives too far from the college for their daughter to travel every day;
 Academic potential - each girl is assessed for her potential to succeed at college if she were to be given a place in the house.

The boarding houses are more than just a place to stay! The girls are offered activities and experiences to support and enrich their education, beyond what they learn at school, such as:

 Regular, well-run, daily programmes that provides much-needed structure for the girls to succeed in their studies;
 Individual support and attention to their academic progress from their housemother, who liaises closely with the college;
 Educational talks and activities from regular visitors to the house, ranging from environmental awareness, to careers talks, to art sessions or sports; and occasional visits to places of interest, broadening the girls' very limited experience of travel within their own country.

The first boarding house opened in Asni in 2008. In September 2009 a second house was opened in Talat n'Yacoub (100km from Marrakech), and in 2011 a third house opened in Ouirgane.  Each of these houses caters for girls aged 11-14 and enables them to attend the college which is within walking distance of their house.  By 2013 the houses were providing homes for more than 100 girls and it was clear that there was a demand for places not only to enable 11-14 year olds to attend college but also for 15-17 year olds to complete the next stage of their education at the lycée.  In 2013 the first EFA girls received their baccalaureate and went on to university, and two more boarding houses were opened in Asni, providing places for 92 girls to study for their baccalaureate, with Asni 2 opening in 2013 and Asni 3 in 2015.

The volunteer programme is based at the houses in Asni, though volunteers may also spend some time at Dar Ouirgane, which is only a 20 minute taxi ride away. Latifa (the first house mother and now in overall charge of all the houses) welcomes volunteers to help her in providing pastoral and educational support to the girls. The goal is to enable the girls to reach their potential - whether they choose to return to their villages, to continue with further education, or enter employment.

"Without the boarding houses it would be impossible for these girls to attend secondary schools - they all come from remote villages high in the Atlas Mountains.  They are all so keen to make the most of the opportunity they have been given.  They work incredibly hard as they are determined to pass their exams, and they also enjoy living in the supportive and caring atmosphere which the boarding house provides.  It was a privilege to work with them." Dianne

To learn more about how the volunteer programme works with this project read more here.

Context

Very few girls from rural communities in Morocco continue their education after primary school. The secondary colleges are too far away from the villages for the girls to travel every day. Their parents are too poor to afford lodgings near to the colleges, and available accommodation is usually over stretched and inadequate. Parents do not have the confidence in any of the facilities to entrust their daughters to be away from their rural communities.

Morocco is a country in transition and with an increasing proportion of youth.  Slow but steady economic growth has helped reduce poverty rates, but, in most rural communities, there is still real economic poverty and a dearth of available opportunities for education. School dropout rates are high in Morocco (about 38 per cent for both elementary and secondary levels according to UNICEF). Literacy rates have improved in the past few years, but remain very low for women, at 38 per cent.(UNICEF)

The High Atlas features some of the most beautiful regions of Morocco. These mountains are the highest in the area, with Toubkal reaching to 4165 metres above sea level.  Asni is situated in the foothills of the High Atlas and is a small town lying on the two main routes into the Atlas Mountains. 

The High Atlas villages are Berber, where hospitality and warm friendliness are deeply-rooted in the culture. For the girls supported by the project, these are their home villages and culture.

Volunteer opportunities with Berber girls in their residential homes - whether you are a professional teacher or classroom assistant, retired or in work and looking for a career break, you can share your language skills and experience with the girls in this broad education  project. Other skills and experience will be welcomed too - take a look at the list of needs, as identified by the project, near the top of this page. Take part in responsible volunteer work overseas.

Thanks to Alan Keohane for the great black and white pictures!

Minimum duration

4 weeks minimum

Living Conditions

You will stay either at a comfortable and  locally-owned guest house or in a recently opened locally owned small hotel, in a private room with en suite shower. Your accommodation will include breakfast and dinner and you will take lunch with the girls on work days. The girls' boarding houses in Asni are just a short walk away.

Project costs

£1,760 for 4 weeks based on private room in guest house (based on a conversion rate of 1.20 Euros to £1)
 
Read about our costs and pricing policy here 

Watch an explanatory interview with programme director Sallie Grayson
 
Additional weeks  are costed at a sliding reducing rate. 
 
Please note these costs are correct to the best of our knowledge but can only be confirmed at time of booking due to changes in transport and taxes outside our control.
 
Included: half board accommodation in private en suite room, lunch on working days, airport transfers, full local orientation, local SIM card, project & placement liaison
 
Your project donation will be used for the purchase of essential equipment for the girls' house
 
How your money is spent based on 4 weeks:
Euro 1280 (£1065 approx) - direct costs in Morocco (airport transfers, accommodation, orientation)
Euro 300 (£250 approx) - project management, liaison & supervision in Morocco
Euro 220 (£185 approx) - project donation in Morocco
£260 - recruitment, matching & project development in UK
 
Not included: flights, insurance, visa costs, personal expenses such as phone calls, medical expenses, etc.

If you or your friends and family wish to make further donations to this project CLICK HERE

Recommended reading

Publication - The Berbers (The Peoples of Africa) 
 
http://www.everyculture.com/Africa-Middle-East/Berbers-of-Morocco.html
 
2011 UN report - Youth in Africa
 
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