Educating Girls Can Stop Gender Inequality in Morocco!
"Education can transform the life of a girl. It can empower her to achieve her dreams."
by Ilham Haddadi
I used to think that education is a right for all in my country and that all kids go to school, since I grew up in a city where all girls my age attended school. Unfortunately, I discovered another reality when I was appointed as a teacher in a remote area (a small village in the Middle Atlas Mountains). I noticed that the majority of my students were boys and that the few girls attending were shy and hardly talked during my class. I asked myself: why there are only a few girls? I learned later that they drop out of Junior school and get married.
Many parents there see no use in sending their daughters to school. It’s better for them to learn how to cook and take care of the house. They should prepare themselves to become good housewives and wait for the first man to come to get married. I was sorry to see 17-year-old girls with three kids and a baby on the back. Moreover, I noticed that there was a high rate of divorce. So, another vicious circle begins.
After a year, I moved from that area, and I felt sorry that I couldn’t do anything about that situation. Those girls are victims who have been deprived of an important human right: Quality Education!
From then on, I promised myself to encourage my female students to study hard at school and to be ambitious.
Education can transform the life of a girl. It can empower her to achieve her dreams. Girls who finish secondary school are more likely to marry at a later age. Also, educated women have better social status in our country, know their rights and duties, have smaller families, and raise healthier children. Moreover, they benefit from financial independence. That is, in case of divorce, they can earn a living and live a decent life.
For all these reasons, girls should be encouraged to stay in school and get a degree. And to help them succeed in that, I focus on reading books, not only to develop their linguistic skills but also to provide female role models. I started by setting up a classroom library because we didn’t have a school library. I was lucky to learn about a great organization that helps Moroccan students have access to school libraries: Morocco Library Project. Thanks to its donations, I now have a small classroom library with three shelves. I have received many books about inspiring women from all over the world. My students especially love the series “Who Is….?” about important historical figures, including artists, scientists, presidents, inventors, etc. They read the majority of those books, which they find very inspiring.
About the Author
Ilham Haddadi is an English teacher at Grand Maghreb High School in Khouribga, Morocco. She is an active managing team member of Morocco Library Project, with a focus on elevating girls through literacy and after-school environmental projects. Ilham is also a British Council ISA Ambassador and a National Geographic Certified Educator.