Morocco is known for being one of the most progressive states in the Middle East and North because of its advancements made for women. Despite these advancements, women’s education in Morocco still lags behind. In 1999, King Mohammed VI ascended the throne after the death of his late father. Since then, his reign has been touted as “the education decade,” and the rise of literacy for the women of Morocco could be partly credited to the King. Here are five facts about women’s education in Morocco.

  1. Literacy rates are low but are still increasing. For a long time, the literacy rates for women in Morocco have been low. King Mohammed’s implementation of more progressive laws has helped to increase these literacy rates. For example, one gave rights for women to be autonomous in the Family Code. Another removed all restrictions from the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). According to the World Bank, literacy rates jumped from 27% in 1999 to about 63% in 2016. Unfortunately, the number of girls pursuing high school and university are still low. Just 10% of girls attend university, but the numbers are growing due to the construction of new schools and girls’ dormitories at existing schools. This makes it easier to attend when the closest school is miles away from home and unreachable by public transportation.
  2. There is a big gap between the urban and rural areas of Morocco. Almost 90% of women in rural areas are illiterate. These numbers are largely due to the cultural norms in rural areas, where traditional gender roles are still prevalent. People still believe the proper place for a woman is at home. This is why the number of girls attending schools in rural areas is only 26%, while for boys it is 79%. Unfortunately for girls in rural areas, access to schools is far from easy. Most schools in rural areas are miles away from homes. The schools become inaccessible because of the poor infrastructure and dirt roads not always being reliable.
  3. The Language Barrier: Berber vs. Arabic. Arabic is the most commonly spoken language in the country, but Berber is the language spoken in rural areas. In many Berber-speaking areas, girls stay at home because school is taught in Arabic. The teachers provided by the state almost never know how to speak Berber. This takes away the chance for these girls to learn.
  4. Education for mothers on the rise. On a positive note, parents of children are also taking advantage of opportunities to learn when they can. The state started a program called Mahou Al Omiya (Erasing Illiteracy), which provides night classes in local schools. Although the program is open to both men and women, mothers of school-aged children have the highest attendance rate. This gives mothers the opportunity to complete the schooling they never had the chance to finish. This opportunity helps the mothers to form relationships with the teachers of their children and gives them the ability to assist their children with their own school work.
  5. Foreign aid is a necessity. Foreign aid has become essential to the advancement of women’s education in Morocco. Aid like the United States Millennium Challenge project has provided $100 million towards the construction of more schools in Morocco. The work of NGOs has also become essential. The campaign Let Girls Learn sends Peace Corps volunteers to assist local leaders to help advance girls’ education and empowerment.

While there remains a long way to go, the progress for women’s education in Morroco over the last 20 years has been remarkable. With continued local and international support, opportunities for young and old will continue to drive the nation toward a lasting prosperity.

Maria S. Rodriguez

Photo: Flickr

Boeing Ecosystem: Striking Manufacturing Deal with Morocco
In September, the country of Morocco signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the aerospace industry giant Boeing, signifying a leap forward in pursuits to increase the industrial presence of the company in the North African region. Boeing aeronautics and astronautics, the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial jets, established a separate joint entity with Safran Power Systems in 2015 and is now manifested as MATIS Aerospace. Investment in the creation of a “Boeing ecosystem” seeks to attract aeronautical suppliers and to facilitate a spike in exports of manufacturing exports in the sector.

In 2013 the Oxford Business Group attributed a $1 billion turnover and the employment of 10,000 individuals to the Moroccan aerospace sector. The nation’s aerospace industry is now ranked 15th internationally and is the host of 120 companies in the sector.

Morocco, through the establishment of the Boeing ecosystem, aims to create over 8,000 jobs and projects annual export revenues to reach $1 billion. Hindered growth forecasts as a result of the European financial crisis have increased the vitality of growth of the job market. In 2012, The World Bank reported unemployment among citizens ranging from 15 to 29 years of age to be 30 percent, which is especially startling considering these individuals constitute 44 percent of the working-age citizenry. The IMA aeronautics institute, strategically located next to the international airport in Casablanca, also provides prospective employees with new hire and continuing education resources and is a state-run collaboration between the aforementioned government and industry.

Strategies for the development of Morocco’s industrial sector from 2014 to 2020 have also been outlined in an Industrial Acceleration Plan (PAI). The Moroccan Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Investment and Digital Economy highlights the establishment of half a million jobs, equally derived from foreign direct investment and a renovated industrial hub. A nine-point rise in the nation’s industrial share of GDP to 23 percent by 2020 has also been recognized as pivotal to reach the plan’s aim for industrial growth.

Amber Bailey

Photo: Flickr

At-Risk Youth in MoroccoYouth facing unemployment in Morocco are extremely vulnerable to a life of crime and drugs and USAID refuses to let this continue.

Issues in the education system have led to dismal circumstances for youth in Morocco, and this government agency is striving to help those already affected by the problems while simultaneously working to solve the root of them.

In the country of Morocco, most students enrolled in the first grade are not predicted to graduate. Drop-out rates are high although 97 percent of children are currently enrolled in school. Moroccan students rank as some of the lowest on international test scores.

Change has become necessary in order for the at-risk youth in Morocco to be properly educated and prepared to provide for themselves and their families.

USAID has partnered with government and nonprofit organizations to implement plans for reform. Research in 2015 suggested that poor and limited teacher training along with a minimal amount of additional reading materials for students were the two main causes of the students’ poor test results.

The Reading for Success-Small Experimentation program has the following three main focuses: a different approach to teaching Arabian phonics, new training guides for teachers and instructors and summer reading activities to cut down on the loss students encounter over the summer months when not in school.

The program began in September 2015 and is set to run until March 2018. It will introduce over 9,000 students in the first and second grade to a new approach to reading, have 180 teachers complete the reformed training and develop effective guidebooks as a resource for teachers, coaches and instructors as they navigate this new approach.

Working even harder to affect real and lasting change, the final goal of the program is to have 800 students participate in the summer reading programs. The Washington Post quoted First Lady Michelle Obama when she said, “research shows that if kids take a break from learning all summer, they not only miss out on new information and skills, they can actually lose up to three months’ worth of knowledge from the previous year.”

The new implementations for summer learning in Morocco will not only help students retain knowledge from the previous year but also equip them for another year of prosperous learning.

But what about the kids who have already finished elementary school?

USAID is also working to help the older youth of Morocco, who make up one-third of the country’s population. Of this one-third, 40 percent do not have jobs and/or are not currently enrolled in school.

The government has partnered with USAID in the cities of Tangiers and Tetouan to provide unemployed youth with vocational training. Their activity, the Favorable Opportunities to Reinforce Self-Advancement for Today’s Youth, began in 2012 and works to increase confidence by training youth in professional skills and giving academic support such as tutoring.

It is doing more than teach skills; this program is giving at-risk youth in Morocco purpose. One student participating in a sewing class in Tangiers told a USAID deputy assistant administrator that “if it wasn’t for this program, [I] would most certainly be on the street selling drugs.”

Morocco is making incredible progress as 12,000 youth are being mentored through this program, and those still enrolled in school are given more and more opportunities for success. The education and vocational skills given to one-third of this nation are sure to positively impact the other two-thirds as well.

Rebecca Causey

Photo: Flickr

Education in Morocco
Education in Morocco has staggered slowly towards greater improvements in their learning infrastructure as illiteracy rates remain high. According to a 2015 statement by the National Agency for the Fight Against Illiteracy (ANLCA), approximately 10 million men and women are still illiterate.

Mounia Benchekroun, a Moroccan consultant in social and educational development stated in The Arab Weekly, “The figure of 10 million illiterate in Morocco should raise a national awareness that would require a much stronger national political engagement in order to fight this scourge.”

Morocco’s High Commissioner for Planning Ahmed Lahlimi also shared his analysis of illiteracy rates in 2014. Lahlimi stated it was more common for adults over 50-years-old to be illiterate, which is approximately 61.1%. In contrast, only 3.7% of children under 15-years-old face illiteracy. There is an evident gender gap as approximately 41.9% of women are illiterate compared to 22.1% of men.

Although the National Education and Training Charter (CNEF) lagged behind in its goal to reduce illiteracy to less than 20% by 2010 with complete eradication by 2015, this issue of high illiteracy rates is accompanied by good news. Literacy rates have made strides throughout the years for education in Morocco, increasing with the implementation of literacy programs by NGOs and with a new 2024 goal to eradicate illiteracy.

Lahlimi states that rates have dropped to 32% compared to 42% of the population 10 years prior. Moreover, Morocco has earned the Confucius Literacy Prize honorable mention for its improvements in literacy rates between 2004 and 2012. A continued emphasis on improving literacy rates for education in Morocco is significant in creating equality and advancing the health and development of the country as a whole.

The Global Education Monitoring Report states that educated mothers are less likely to die in childbirth by two-thirds and that child mortality would be reduced by a sixth. Literacy plays an important role in mortality rates through the ability to read. Literacy provides information to make well-informed decisions, such as utilizing a nurse at birth or understanding nutrition. In addition, according to Alfalit International, research has shown that illiteracy can limit an individual’s ability to understand and process information necessary to take care of oneself.

With the importance of literacy among Moroccan men and women, ANLCA calls on national and international powers “for a new impetus to-wards a literate Morocco.” New improvements for education in Morocco will come in addition to an eradication of illiteracy by 2024.

Priscilla Son

Photo: Flickr

Top Diseases in Morocco
Although modern in many respects, Morocco remains a traditional country that struggles to combat certain diseases. The country with a population of 33,680,000 has a life expectancy of 71, which is right at the world’s average. Although there are a good number of physicians and medical centers available, the rural population still experiences difficulty accessing these facilities and safe drinking water. Here are the top diseases in Morocco:

Hepatitis

Hepatitis A, B, C, and E are all prominent in Morocco, but currently, hepatitis A and B are the only forms that can be prevented through a vaccine or medication. Regardless of where you are staying or what food you are eating, there is a high possibility of obtaining hepatitis A in Morocco due to contaminated food and water. It is also transmitted through person-to-person contact.

Hepatitis B, which is transmitted via blood and bodily fluids, is another dangerous disease. Activities such as intercourse with the local population, intravenous drug use, contaminated tattoo and piercing equipment or exposure to blood may yield hepatitis B. Symptoms usually include nausea, fatigue, dark urine, abdominal pain and jaundice.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that inflames the liver. This form of hepatitis is similar to the others because it can be transmitted person to person and through activities that expose one to blood and other bodily fluids.

Hepatitis E is extremely endemic in Morocco and also inflames the liver. Water contaminated with fecal matter and foods that contain raw or undercooked meats, may result in exposure to hepatitis E.

Rabies

Rabies, which is found everywhere, is another prominent disease in Morocco. One can obtain rabies through mammal bites, especially from dogs, cats and bats.

Typhoid

Common in areas with poor sanitation, Typhoid Fever is a gastrointestinal infection that is transmitted from person to person. It’s found in Southeast Asia, Africa, Central and South America and Western Pacific countries. Symptoms include headaches, lack of appetite, enlarged liver and constipation. Similar to hepatitis E, ensuring that one’s food is thoroughly cooked is an easy way to avoid typhoid.

Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis, a disorder that has become more prevalent due to irrigation, is characterized by the inflammation of the intestines, bladder, liver and other organs. It was first detected in Morocco in 1914, but reached its peak post-independence when the new government was constructing numerous irrigation systems across the country.

Almost as dangerous as malaria, it is a serious parasitic infection that affects nearly 200 million people in Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean. The lack of clean water makes schistosomiasis easily attainable because worms that carry the parasite can be found where people work, bathe or swim.

Although the top diseases in Morocco are affecting not only the population but those who visit the country, there is ample aid given to reduce the prevalence of these diseases. Organizations such as USAID and the World Health Organization (WHO) funnel money to provide more portable water, vaccinations and access to medical personnel and facilities. The U.S. planned to give $33,500,000 to combat top diseases in Morocco.

The country has been open to implementing strategies that lead to impressive differences. For example, Morocco started using azithromycin on a large-scale, the first country to do so, in an attempt to control trachoma.

Overall, Morocco has also made great strides towards eliminating other diseases including eradicating malaria, which it accomplished in 2010.

Ashley Morefield

Photo: Flickr

injaz
In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a new emphasis has been placed on teaching children about entrepreneurship. In Morocco, four out of every five young people between the ages of 15 and 34 are unemployed and not taking an active role in changing their circumstances.

The idea behind encouraging young people to become entrepreneurs is that they will eventually create jobs for themselves and others as well. Injaz is a non-profit at the forefront of this initiative.

According to their website, Injaz aims to “reveal to youth their potential and stimulate their spirit of initiative through a partnership between the corporate and the public worlds.” They have 10 offices all over MENA that are carrying out programs that teach young people about how to create a business.

Injaz has volunteers on the ground who are engaging students at all grade levels for two hours during a three-week period in each location. During their time at each place, volunteers attempt to implement Junior Achievement programs, which has been a global leader of entrepreneurship since 1919.

These programs work to get unemployed youth engaged and re-energized about their futures.

The high unemployment rate can be attributed to several factors: public sector employment preferences, lack of “high quality” jobs and a mishandling of skills and the education that is provided when it comes to what jobs are most needed in the job market.

These and other intricately interwoven factors contribute to the lack of engaged youth and the clear need for an entrepreneurial initiative.

Although the governments in MENA have recognized and attempted to enthusiastically rectify this growing problem, they haven’t been able to gain the trust and respect of its people due to their predecessors. The public is skeptical because there have been many failures on the part of past government officials when it comes to this initiative.

It is important to remember that there have been failures, yes, but also many success stories, some of which are shared on Injaz’s website.

In 2014, the efforts of Injaz helped to provide almost 11,000 students with hands-on classes on global business, practical entrepreneurial skills, financial literacy and an encouragement towards imagination and creativity.

As Sarah Alaoui, a team member of the American Moroccan Legal Empowerment Network, says, “the fairies of innovation and entrepreneurship will not magically dissipate the hurdles faced by unemployed youth in the country, [but] if cultivated properly, they are a long-term channel for Morocco’s youth to contribute to the country’s growth and development as valuable members of society… [and] the ship of entrepreneurship must be encouraged to stay afloat in Morocco.”

Drusilla Gibbs

Sources: Al Jazeera, Injaz Morocco, Huffington Post
Photo: Morocco World News

Green GrowthBasic energy services are the cornerstone of any robust poverty reduction strategy. Providing power to the poor is a prerequisite for the improvement of many other indicators of development. For example, it is very difficult to study at night, run a hospital, or start a business without some basic access to electricity.

That is why power access is often the focus of international development policy. Currently, the Electrify Africa Act of 2015 has been introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives and is awaiting consideration. This piece of legislation directs the President to partner with aid recipients in Africa to develop their power resources.

However, while providing power is an important first step in relieving abject poverty in developing countries, it also can be an opportunity to sidestep further environmental damage. Growing concern with climate change is motivating large aid donors to turn their attention towards green growth and the development of renewable energy resources for their recipients. The logic behind this is that, with the help of already-industrialized nations, developing countries should not have to progress through dirtier energy resources, such as coal and oil, and instead can benefit from more efficient, earth-friendly technologies.

The World Bank, cognizant of both the threat of climate change and the lack of energy services for the poor, is adopting an overall strategy of “green growth.” Rachel Kyte, the World Bank’s climate change envoy, explains that “we have to keep economies growing to bring shared prosperity for all, but we also have to bring down greenhouse gas emissions.” Balancing growth with a reduction in emissions could involve encouraging developing economies to invest in renewables, emphasizing climate-friendly agriculture, or instituting some sort of carbon tax.

One tangible way in which the World Bank already encourages green growth is through issuing “green bonds,” development loans set aside for renewable energy projects. The value of issued green bonds currently amounts to about $8.4 billion total.

Green energy investments can take many different forms, depending on the unique needs and economic environment of the country in question, and do not always involve large infrastructure projects. In Malawi, for example, there is a large focus on providing small solar lights to some of the poorest communities, so that children can study at night, and people can make money by using their personal solar devices to charge mobile phones. SunnyMoney, a social enterprise backed by the UK’s aid agency, is working to distribute the technology in small villages in Malawi. The lights are paid for initially with donor support and sold to villagers on credit.

Even small solar devices can have a huge impact on quality of life. Acreo Kamera, the headmaster of St. Martin’s secondary school in Nambuma, is enthusiastic about the lights’ impact on education. “I would say the performance of the pupils will definitely improve enough to get people to pass exams. Now they can stay later at school and revise. Without light, pupils have had little chance to read or write. Everyone will save money on torches and batteries and reduce living costs, too,” he said.

Elsewhere, in countries such as Bangladesh and Morocco, government-supported green energy programs are providing jobs and basic energy services, not only improving quality of life for the poor but creating long-term economic investments. In rural Bangladesh, a government-run program has resulted in the installation of an estimated 3.5 million home solar systems, also creating thousands of jobs to service the new infrastructure. Similar developments are being undertaken in Morocco, with a special long-term emphasis on creating an energy grid suited to running off of sustainable energy sources such as wind and hydropower.

Providing basic energy services to the poor is one of the most direct ways of encouraging growth and development. Access to electricity, even if it is just enough to charge a phone or power a light, can enable those in developing countries to fully take advantage of their educational and economic opportunities. However, in a world where climate change is a growing threat, aid donors and aid recipients are forming strong partnerships to provide power services to the people that really need them.

Derek Marion

Sources: International Business Times, The Guardian
Photo: The Guardian

peace_corps
The Peace Corps is a unique opportunity for people of all walks of life to give back to the world and help communities develop sustainably. Founded in 1961, the mission of the Peace Corps is “to promote peace and friendship” around the world.

The structure of the Peace Corps has evolved greatly to advance with the rise of globalization and the development of new strategies and technologies that address the challenges developing nations face. Peace Corps volunteers often have very rewarding and fulfilling experiences. Volunteers gain community level development experience and new perspectives of life.

Here are just five examples of the hundreds of unique Peace Corps volunteer positions available:

1. Teach English in Micronesia– Volunteers teach English literacy to children in elementary school who speak the languages of their local islands. They work with host teachers to motivate and teach the children. While living with a host family, a volunteer in this position will experience exciting local development work.

2. Work as a Community Health Outreach Volunteer in Mozambique– Volunteers work at the community level to address needs for HIV prevention and treatment, malaria prevention and community health facility support. Volunteers live in a home with other volunteers in a rural setting with a thatched or tin roof.

3. Help Manage Coastal Resources in the Philippines– Volunteers work with local fishing communities, the government and partner organizations to implement conservation and sustainable use for marine resources. The sites are often rural and local transport is primarily small boats and bikes.

4. Work with Youth in Morocco– Volunteers teach English and help youth gain leadership skills, environmental awareness and business skills. They work in youth centers and also partner with community programs that address health and education.

5. Assist in Agriculture Development in Paraguay– Responsibilities involve working with small farming families to help them optimize their resources to ensure food security and enhance quality of life. This is a specialized opportunity to utilize Spanish language skills and also learn Guarani in order to communicate in more remote areas.

While the two-year Peace Corps commitment may appear daunting to some, there is a reason why the application process is competitive and employers love to see Peace Corps service on resumes.

The experience provides meaningful, important service to people in developing countries, while helping you to gain valuable fieldwork experience and broaden your perspective on how people live around the world. Currently, the Peace Corps has 6,818 volunteers and trainees. You could soon be a part of this dedicated group.

– Iliana Lang

Sources: Peace Corps, Youth Health
Photo: Flickr

morocco_fighting_poverty
On June 7, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) held an official ceremony to recognize the successful efforts of fighting poverty in Morocco. Morocco received the FAO’s distinction for reaching the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of cutting extreme poverty and hunger two years ahead of schedule. 72 countries around the world have so far achieved the MDG target.

Many credit Morocco’s innovative agricultural and fishery programs with the successful poverty reductions. One program, the Green Morocco Plan, increased the country’s agricultural yield by training farmers in “direct seeding” technology. A Moroccan official explained, “These strategies have brought significant support to small farmers, forest operators and fishermen to improve their income and, consequently living standards and better manage their natural resources in a sustainable manner”

Morocco’s National Initiative of Human Development (INDH) has also contributed to the country’s declining poverty rate. Established in 2006 to help lift nearly 10 million Moroccans out of poverty, the program allocated $6 billion to anti-poverty projects. The INDH is widely regarded as a success. In 2010 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised the program, saying that its “significant results” will benefit all Moroccan citizens, especially the poor.

The Kingdom of Morocco is not singularly focused on domestic poverty. In the 16 years since his enthronement, King Mohammed VI has shown a particular interest in sustainable development on the African continent. He has helped launch multiple joint development projects and has championed African causes at the United Nations.

The monarch’s latest trip to Africa took him to Gabon, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and Ivory Coast, where he met with leaders and signed 35 different partnership agreements. These agreements focus on the improvement of the countries’ training, agriculture, water and energy sectors. They will help build roads, provide medicines and supply water and electricity to impoverished villages. Many hope that these measures will improve food security and encourage socioeconomic development in the countries while still respecting traditional African practices.

Some countries in the region have also expressed interest in following the lead of Morocco’s National Initiative of Human Development. Recently, Morocco partnered with Gabon to help guide the country’s new Gabonese Human Investment Strategy (SIHG).

Morocco’s support for African development programs has gained the country and its leaders widespread popularity in West and Central Africa. As shifting geopolitical and economic factors increasingly mark Africa as a major player on the world stage, Morocco’s influence in the region could force the United States and other global powers to recognize the importance of developmental assistance.

– Caitlin Harrison

Sources: North Africa Post, World Bank, Morocco World News, United Nations, Digital Journal
Photo: Green Prophet