Morocco is an economic powerhouse in Africa and according to the African Development Bank, it ranks as the second-largest economy on the continent. Interestingly, the country hasn’t always had such successes. Before the year 2000, Morocco scored poorly on many social, economic, environmental and institutional indicators. Life expectancy was below average, unemployment was high and only 32% of people had access to proper sanitation services.
Morocco has seen positive growth in all aspects of society, due partly to help from international institutions like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The role of USAID programs in Morocco is evident in the achievements and improvements of the country’s education system. The number of out-of-school children went from more than 200,000 to just above 14,000.
The following is a brief look into a number of USAID initiatives that focus on providing accessible, quality education in Morocco.
Enhanced Educational Attainment for Children at the Primary Level
According to USAID, ensuring lasting and quality education is vital for eradicating global poverty. It is important to provide a strong education as soon as possible in order to maintain steady attendance throughout primary and high school.
Morocco’s Ministry of Education (MOE) is working closely with one of the USAID programs that focuses on strengthening reading comprehension levels in primary school. The goal of this program is to improve overall education and “learning achievement.”
This initiative had incredible success within just one year of the small pilot experiment, which USAID and the government later expanded into the National Program for Reading. According to USAID’s reports, nearly 700,000 primary students benefited from improved reading comprehension and language lessons.
Higher Education Partnership
Morocco once lacked educated teachers and educational staff. In recent times, however, the country has been working with the MOE to provide quality education and “pre-service training” to teachers and staff. The MOE is utilizing the Higher Education Partnership for Morocco (HEP-M) USAID program to start a five-year partnership. This program aims to assist the MOE by providing and building expertise in teacher training, helping develop an undergraduate program for future primary school teachers and enhancing overall higher-level education at Moroccan universities. Both USAID and the MOE are expecting sustainable and positive impacts within this five-year period, set to end by 2024.
Inclusive Education Teacher Training
USAID programs in Morocco have greatly improved the country’s education system, but it still faces accessibility issues for students with disabilities. These students have access to the same education as the rest of their peers, but don’t have the required accommodations for optimal learning. Students with disabilities tend to drop out of school around sixth grade, and this negatively impacts their “socio-economic well-being” in the long term.
USAID and the MOE are working together to improve access to education for deaf and hard-of-hearing children through adequate teacher training. The USAID program includes providing Moroccan Sign Language (MSL) training and certifications to teachers, training in deaf education and promoting deaf and hard-of-hearing education within communities.
Moroccan education has seen success with the USAID Program Improving Deaf Children’s Reading through Technology. This initiative went on from 2015 to 2018. MSL has earned recognition as a language and teachers and administrators have received the necessary training. In addition, deaf and hard-of-hearing students have received quality reading materials.
With the help of USAID programs in Morocco, the country increased the number of children in school and improved literacy and comprehension rates in both primary-aged and deaf and hard-of-hearing children. While there is still room for progress in closing the education gender gap, the country’s commitment to improving its education bodes positive signs for the future.
– Kathryn Kendrick