RABAT – For girls in the developing world, education is a gateway to taking control of their lives. In Morocco, girls access to education has been steadily improving over the years. These top 10 facts about girls’ education in Morocco demonstrate the progress Morocco has made.
Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Morocco
- There is a serious gender gap in literacy – Two-thirds of all women in Morocco are illiterate, suggesting a structural issue in girls’ access to education. However, in youth specifically, the statistics are becoming more promising; although, there remains a notable gender gap. Between 2008 and 2012, 74 percent of women ages 15-24 were literate, compared to 88 percent of men.
- Girls’ education is less accessible in rural areas – Only 26 percent of girls in rural locations are enrolled in primary school, compared to 79 percent of boys. In rural areas, the nearest school is often a long walk away. Girls are given far less freedom than boys are, so parents are often reluctant to let their girls walk alone to school.
- The language barrier poses an added challenge – Language barriers add complications to education for girls in rural areas. While public schools are taught in Arabic, many rural families speak the Berber language. Often, public school teachers do not speak Berber, so parents are reluctant to send their non-Arabic speaking girls to school.
- Cultural barriers still hold girls back – A traditional patriarchal society places value on a girls’ role in the home. Particularly in rural areas, their domestic responsibilities prevent them from going to school. While child marriage is technically illegal in Morocco, there’s evidence that some girls are still forced to marry as early as age 12.
- The Moroccan government is committed to ending illiteracy – The Moroccan government, led by King Mohammed VI, has instituted various policies to target illiteracy. The government initially had the goal of entirely eliminating illiteracy by 2015. But as of 2017, the national illiteracy rate was still 30 percent. Now, the government has a new goal of ending illiteracy across genders by 2024.
- Primary education is compulsory in Morocco – Six years of primary school education (from ages nine to 14) was made mandatory in 1962. A promising 95 percent of school-aged Moroccan children are enrolled in primary school. However, fewer than 15 percent of these students will finish high school.
- Primary education is free in Morocco – In Morocco, public schools, including most universities, are tuition-free. However, many rural families must weigh the indirect cost of sending their girls to school when they would otherwise perform necessary domestic labor at home.
- “Mahou al Omiya” helps mothers get involved – The government offers a program called “Mahou al Omiya”, or “Erasing Illiteracy”, a free night class held at all public school to help adults become literate. Literacy rates are lowest in women, so adult women take advantage of this program most. As a result, the program allows mothers to become more comfortable with the school system and empowers them to help their daughters with their own studies.
- Project Soar Morocco empowers adolescent girls – Project Soar is nonprofit based in Marrakech, Morocco that is dedicated to supporting girls in school. It teaches girls about their rights and helps them find their voices. Local facilitators lead workshops in which girls develop crucial self-confidence and leadership skills. Project Soar has served nearly 500 teen girls with aims to serve an additional 700 by 2019.
- Let Girls Learn puts the spotlight on girls’ education – Working with the Peace Corps’ “Let Girls Learn” initiative, Michelle Obama and Meryl Streep visited Marrakech in 2016. The former First Lady and famous actress met with a group of 24 girls. They exchanged inspiring stories and interviewed the girls for a CNN documentary called “We Will Rise.”
Although girls still face significant barriers to education, the trend is clear––education for girls is rising. The top 10 facts about girls’ education in Morocco show that with focused government policies and the help of nonprofits, education equality is on the horizon.
– Ivana Bozic