New Moroccan initiative seeks to reduce school dropout rate
By Sarah Touahri for Magharebia in Rabat -- 04/04/07
The State Secretariat for Literacy and Informal Education launched an initiative last week to draw up a comprehensive roster of children who have dropped out of school. The initiative is part of an awareness campaign targeting parents. Dropping out is a serious problem in Morocco, as each year nearly 200,000 children withdraw from school before completing their primary education.
Researchers and government officials largely attribute the phenomenon to the ignorance of poor parents who do not realise the importance of education. Noureddine Hraiche, president of the Association for Reform and Development, says that some parents withdraw their children from school due to the competing demands for household income which often require children to work.
El Hbib Nadir, the government’s Director for Literacy, told Magharebia that drop-out rates are higher among children of illiterate parents. "The same social pattern repeats itself," he said. On a more optimistic note, he suggests, "The vicious circle can be broken if we teach parents about the importance of putting their children through school."
In 2006, the secretariat launched a number of awareness campaigns to address the growing problem. The latest effort aims to roll out a national programme of "encouraging schoolchildren to make a list of non-enrolled children and children who have dropped out," the secretariat announced.
More than 500,000 sixth-grade students will be trained in survey techniques and some 70,000 students will be trained to conduct interviews with over a million non-enrolled children and dropouts. More than 14,000 teachers and headmasters will be responsible for implementing the plan.
Nadir believes the initiative is a logical one because it will get children who have dropped out back into the school system and it will act as a preventative measure because it raises students' awareness of the consequences of dropping out.
The initiative was tested last year in a few provinces. Fatima Lharti, a 12 year-old schoolgirl from Tangier, says she managed to stop approximately one dozen children from dropping out and persuaded a number of others who had already dropped out to come back to school. The most difficult part of the work is convincing parents. However, "when they hear children the same age as their own talking about the consequences of taking their children out of school, most come around within a few minutes," Lharti proudly told Magharebia.
Samir El Garoumi missed a year of school to work for his family. He is now back in school and has struck a healthy balance between work and studies. In the morning he goes to school and in the evening he helps his father manage an apartment building. This year he is taking part in the initiative to make a list of pupils who are not in school and he advises parents in his family circle to allow their children to finish their education.
Subscribe to our newsletter and get Magharebia's latest articles delivered to your inbox.