After bumping along a dirt road mile away from Marrakech, Morocco, all I wanted was a cold bottle of water. We had enjoyed an indulgent stay at the Kasbah du Toukal the night before in the Atlas Mountains and were on our way back into the city. Although I was ready to tuck into the next riad for a mint tea and nap, we have a very important stop to make first.
In the hills of rural Morocco is a small groups of schools, just for girls. An initiative called “Education for All” allows female students living in the High Atlas Mountains to continue their studies beyond primary school with assisted lessons, lodging and support. It’s a long-term goal to get the girls into university, with ongoing guidance throughout their pre-teen and teenage years. A small group is accepted into the program to ensure the best success for all to finish their higher education. The first group that went through the school in 2007-2008 is now graduating university, and those who founded the program couldn’t be prouder!
I was greeted at the door by one of the staff members who overlooks operations at the school. She explained how the complex operated. About 36 girls from the ages of 11-15 live and study in the main building, graduating onto boarding schools next door as they get older.
The common rooms at the entrance are for free study where the girls can gather in gaggles and go over the curriculum for the day. There’s also more formal classrooms as well. All of them were super polite, shy and smiled bright as we came in to say hello.
Upstairs are the dormitories where students live throughout the week while going to school. I loved the walls lined with local artwork and colourful paintings displayed by the girls too. Everything was completely immaculate, floor to ceiling. I commented on the wonderful job they did to keep everything tidy, and staff let me know that in Islamic faith it’s very important to maintain order and cleanliness, which everyone took great pride in. I could have used some of that discipline when I was in college, you couldn’t see the floor of my dorm!
The rooftop opens up to a beautiful leisure area, complete with shaded sitting spots and panoramic views of the Atlas Mountains. The girls love to hang out there and occasionally do extra lessons, including English classes, cooking, singing and more.
I never get to do enough local outreach while traveling these days for work. It was wonderful, even for a moment, to learn about the incredible things happening at Education for All in Morocco.
Above all else, it is so, so important to educate young women worldwide. Education trumps ignorance, poverty, unrest, hate and so many other things that plague our planet today. It might not be the most popular of causes, but after seeing real results first hand at this school, I’m even more adamant in the idea that information sets us all free.
If you’d like to find out more about Education for all, read out their amazing story and progress via the Education for All website. Also give the Kasbah du Toukal a look, who fully support the school through funding and real-time staffing/volunteering. Keep up with the school and its fundraising efforts via Twitter and Facebook.