The Future of Morocco Lives in Cramped Conditions
Fida worked in community development around Morocco during the years 2002-2014. Health education, extra tuition and art education were received in the best year by up to 26 000 people in the town of Ouazzane and the surrounding villages.
In the North Moroccan town of Ouazzane a small yard opens up behind a white fence. Bordering the yard is a long building, the House of Student Girls of Ouazzane. Girls from remote regions live here and are therefore able to attend school after the sixth grade. Last year there were more students than ever before. There were 122 of them in total, and the space is at premium. The small yard suddenly seems really small.
The house contains one dormitory: a long hall filled with bunk beds. The private space for each girl is only the size of a bed, and the wall is lined with lockers, where all the belongings will have to fit.
A door from the dormitory leads to a bathroom, which contains a few squat toilets and a shower recess. It makes you wonder whether the teenage girls suffer from the lack of privacy in these conditions at all.
Long way to school
The challenge of Morocco's educational system is that the small villages only have primary schools, and you must travel to the closest larger centre in order to attend a high school. Student houses, which charge a fee, provide an opportunity for the rural children to live near their schools. They allow the girls of this generation to gain literacy skills and some even to become highly educated.
Fida's partner, ADDAD, a diabetes and development organisation, has volunteers who visit the student houses, schools and the rural villages near Ouazzane. It holds health education classes and testing for diabetes and organises art workshops and other leisure activities.
Variety from educational sessions
A hundred girls make a lot of noise in the student house cafeteria. 13-year-olds Nazaw, Ahlam, Fatim and Najwa sit around a table with twinkling eyes.
What do you do after school?
- We come straight here from school and continue studying, Najwa says.
- We do our homework and get some extra tuition, someone adds.
How long will you live in the Student House?
- Until we finish our basic education, so three years. Some people live here during the upper secondary school, too, the girls clarify.
What has Fida's local partner ADDADD team done during their visits to the Student House?
- Theatre! Ahlam calls out.
- They have given some educational sessions about interesting topics.
- I do remember one teaching: remember God, and he remembers you, Nazaw repeats.
What would you like to be when you grow up?
- Policewoman (Nazaw)
- Doctor (Ahlam)
- Teacher (Fatim)
- Engineer (Najwa)
At the end of the visit, the ADDADD team addresses the whole group of over a hundred girls. The girls are told that in Finland they have friends and sponsors, who enjoy hearing their news. The girls are encouraged to study hard, because it is the only way to make their dreams come true.
Fida's partner organisation ADDADD has achieved financial independence through its Internet cafes and educational activities. It continues its work without Fida's financial support.