We work closely with the local people who manage this project, and they have identified their primary volunteer needs.
Female volunteers will be welcomed with any of the following skills and experience:
N.B. a good level of French is especially required in this project.
the girls have a real need to develop ability and confidence in English & French - conversation, composition and comprehension
TEFL / EFL / TESL experience would be especially welcome
teachers in all subjects who could work with 11-18 year olds in small groups
life skills - particularly mentoring and supporting the girls in their studies and preparation for leaving school
due to the girls' cultural background, we are unable to place male volunteers on this project
For more details of the aims of this volunteer programme and volunteer input needed read more here
The project - "If you educate a girl you educate the next generation as well".
This project is working with a charity that builds and runs girls’ boarding houses near secondary colleges and lycées in the High Atlas Mountains, providing the opportunity for selected girls from villages across the region to continue their education.
Through the project's provision of boarding houses, girls gain access to a secondary education and the chance to fulfil their potential in an environment that promotes academic study and social understanding. The goal is to make a difference to the lives of these girls now, and thus change many more in the future.
This innovative project is also working towards Goal 3 of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG), specifically: to promote gender equality and empower women. The MDG Goal 3 target is to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, and in all levels of education no later than 2015.
As is often the case, the need for accommodation is greater than what can be realistically provided. There are three criteria for each intake:
• Poverty – the family is too poor to consider other options;
• Distance – the family lives too far from the college for their daughter to travel every day;
• Academic potential – each girl is assessed for her potential to succeed at college if she were to be given a place in the house.
The boarding houses are more than just a place to stay! The girls are offered activities and experiences to support and enrich their education, beyond what they learn at school, such as:
• Regular, well-run, daily programme that provides much-needed structure for the girls to succeed in their studies;
• Individual support and attention to their academic progress from the housemother, who liaises closely with the college;
• Educational talks and activities from regular visitors to the house, ranging from environmental awareness, to careers talks, to art sessions or sports; and occasional visits to places of interest, broadening the girls’ very limited experience of travel within their own country.
The first boarding house opened in Asni in 2008. In September 2009 a second house was opened in Talat n’Yacoub (100km from Marrakech), and in September 2010 a third house opened in Ouirgane.
The volunteer programme is based at Dar Asni - the first purpose-built boarding house with the capacity to provide a “home-away-from-home” for 36 girls. Latifa (the house mother) welcomes volunteers to help her in providing pastoral and educational support to the girls. The goal is to enable the girls to reach their potential - whether they choose to return to their villages, to continue with further education, or enter employment.
"Without the boarding houses it would be impossible for these girls to attend secondary schools - they all come from remote villages high in the Atlas Mountains. They are all so keen to make the most of the opportunity they have been given. They work incredibly hard as they are determined to pass their exams, and they also enjoy living in the supportive and caring atmosphere which the boarding house provides. It was a privilege to work with them." Dianne
Very few girls from rural communities in Morocco continue their education after primary school. The secondary colleges are too far away from the villages for the girls to travel every day. Their parents are too poor to afford lodgings near to the colleges, and available accommodation is usually over stretched and inadequate. Parents do not have the confidence in any of the facilities to entrust their daughters to be away from their rural communities.
Morocco is a country in transition and with an increasing proportion of youth. Slow but steady economic growth has helped reduce poverty rates, but, in most rural communities, there is still real economic poverty and a dearth of available opportunities for education. School dropout rates are high in Morocco (about 38 per cent for both elementary and secondary levels according to UNICEF). Literacy rates have improved in the past few years, but remain very low for women, at 38 per cent.(UNICEF)
The High Atlas features some of the most beautiful regions of Morocco. These mountains are the highest in the area, with Toubkal reaching to 4165 metres above sea level. Asni is situated in the foothills of the High Atlas and is a small town lying on the two main routes into the Atlas Mountains.
The High Atlas villages are Berber, where hospitality and warm friendliness are deeply-rooted in the culture. For the girls supported by the project, these are their home villages and culture.
Volunteer opportunities with Berber girls in their residential home – whether you are a professional teacher or classroom assistant, retired or in work and looking for a career break, you can share your language skills and experience with the girls in this broad education project. Other skills and expereince will be welcomed too – take a look at the list of needs, as identified by the project, near the top of this page. Take part in responsible volunteer work overseas.
Thanks to Alan Keohane for the great black and white pictures!