When we started working with the women in the Atlas Mountains in 2012, we carried out a zero measurement study focused on the education level, work opportunities and life conditions in the region.
The zero measurement had following results: Sample study of 458 people (one village) as sample for four villages in the region: –> 159 men of which 69 (43%) have gone to school; –> 160 women of which 35 (22%) have gone to school; –> 139 children of which 80 (57%) go to school, some of them are younger – so the schooling rate of children over 6 is 90%.
As unemployment of women corresponded with the illiteracy rate (80% of unemployment), we set the goal to fight illiteracy. It is evident that education is the basis for employment and independency. So we asked the women how they felt about it – and essentially they said that mostly they cared for the future of their kids, which meant a good education, pre-school, primary, secondary and even tertiary education was their biggest wish – they cared far less for themselves.
But we still believed in the power of education for the women – so we offered them a deal: You get free pre-school for your children – as long as you go to school, too. With this approach, we could guarantee that not only the children would be better prepared for their education life cycle, but they could also have educational support at home provided by their own mothers. The women accepted our proposal with a smile cheek to cheek.
The first classes for the mothers and the children started in March 2013. We found an excellent partner – the Astraia Female Leadership Foundation (www.astraia.org) who share our vision and who have supported our school since its creation. In March 2013, we started with 19 women (of which15,2% were illiterate) who have been taught the alphabet, reading and writing in Arabic, calculation and much more.
In September 2014, when we started the second cycle 25 women applied to do the next course and at the moment (2016) we have 39 women in class. Women go to school 3 hours a day in the afternoon – 5 days a week. We found Lahcen, a young man from the community, to fufil the role of teacher. He is well respected by the men and women and is passionate and zealous about his work. We get a weekly overview of what they have learned as well as a list of attendance.
Talking to the women about their goals with their new knowledge, their answers are quite basic: To begin with, they wanted to understand what medications the doctors give to their children. Now they can read and understand how to administer it the medication. Secondly, they can now go to the big city on their own because they are able to read the street signs.
In total we created over 75.000 hours of education from 2013-2015 together for women and children (5 days a week, each group has 3hrs a day, with 8 weeks holidays in summer for Ramadan and 4 weeks in winter, which equals to 11.400 + 13.800 = 25.200 per year).