VOLUNTEER TEACHING AND EDUCATION PROJECT IN MOROCCO
INTRODUCTION MOROCCO EDUCATION AND TEACHING
Education is one of the most pressing social issues in Morocco, with an illiteracy rate of 40% in people over the age of 15. Particularly in rural, mountainous areas like Azrou, children are often taken out of school at a young age to help support their families in farming and herding activities. At the preschool level there is little to no government support and teachers receive no formal training. In these rural schools, with poor infrastructure and a low number of teachers, volunteers are essential in providing engaging and varied early childhood activities to support the individual academic potential of each student while increasing critical capacity building skills to ensure students don’t fall behind.
TEACHING VOLUNTEERING IN MOROCCO
While schools are out for the summer, our KIVOLEX volunteers will be developing and implementing a full day camp, geared towards the children of Azrou who come from lower-class families. During the long summer weeks, there is no local infrastructure available for these children. There is also a private school trend nationwide that is causing underprivileged children to fall behind their peers who have access to better, more consistent educational tools. This camp aims to narrow that disparity by providing a fun, safe environment for kids to challenge themselves, learn more about their world, and inspire a lasting interest in their education.
- ENGLISH- Having a developed base in the English language can significantly help students reach higher levels of education and achieve their dreams. Parents in Azrou are eager to give this opportunity to their kids and help them get ahead for the coming school year. This camp is geared towards underprivileged children who don’t have the opportunity to travel during the summer months. Increasing their capacities in English will help them keep up with their peers and have a higher interest in continuing their studies far beyond elementary school.
- STEM- Along weekly themes, volunteers will lead Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math activities that build off of the vocabulary learned in their morning English lessons. Using hands-on techniques to experiment with materials that are sourced locally, the camp-goers will be challenged to think critically about the world around them.
- PHYSICAL EDUCATION- It’s never too early to learn life skills like sharing and caring for others as well as yourself. We will be focusing on team-building, the importance of exercise, and FUN with activities that get kids moving and working together. Think acro-yoga meets relay race, or get your own gears turning and invent a brand new game for us to play!
- ART- Creativity is lacking in the local curriculum that is historically built on rote memorization. More and more parents are understanding the need for their kids to express themselves and think outside of the box, and that’s where we come in! We will lead arts and crafts activities that encourage the kids to express their own idea of beauty, push their artistic boundaries, or create an educational art project along the weekly theme. Are you ready for paper-mâché and homemade kazoos?
VOICE FROM MOROCCO COMMUNITY
“We want to support our families, but we don’t always have the necessary skills to do so, and this continues the cycle of poverty in our community.”
“Over the past few years, women have received encouragement from the government to form associations and cooperatives to make it easier for them to earn an income. But they cannot do it by themselves; the need outside support in order to improve their output.”
“Women would like lessons in networking, marketing, language learning, team-building, and handicrafts, but also more personal focused assistance such as family planning, hygiene education, and–most importantly–encouragement and inspiration!”
CULTURAL ACTIVITIES IN MOROCCO
LEARN FROM AMAZIGH ARTISANS
Artisan activities, from weaving Amazigh rugs to creating handicrafts from cedar wood, are reflected throughout the community. Visit with local artisans to learn about their traditions, and try your hand at creating your own unique piece of Morocco.
ARABIC LANGUAGE LESSONS
If you’re new to Arabic, no worries. You’ll have an opportunity to participate in regular language lessons offered in the comfort of the KIVOLEX Home-Base. Take advantage of these lessons in Moroccan Arabic, also known as Darija, to learn some of the basics of the language, as well as the history behind it.
WOMEN IN MOROCCO
Women in Morocco have enjoyed increasing freedoms since independence from France in 1956. However, with female education and literacy rates still significantly lower than males, particularly in rural areas, the traditional gender roles continues to limit opportunities for women. Learn about the role of women in Islam and in Morocco through engaging and intensive discussions and personal interactions.
FARMING IN THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS
Agricultural life, including farming and herding, remains a primary economic activity for the Berber people in the Atlas Mountains. Immerse yourself in the daily life of farmers by visiting a family farm to learn about crop production and family roles in Azrou.
COOK MOROCCAN CUISINE
Each week you’ll have a chance to roll up your sleeves and get experimental in the kouzina — kitchen — at Home-Base as you explore the incredible variety that makes up Moroccan cuisine. Whether you’re cooking a fragrant tagine or a rich lentil soup, you’ll be giving compliments to the chef yourself in no time!
A chance to learn about Islam is a huge motivator for lots of KIVOLEX volunteers in Morocco, and the interactive Islam lecture is something that you can only get with us. By offering a first-hand perspective on Islam in a comfortable setting, our Country Director gives you the chance to ask questions and breakdown stereotypes.
FREE TIME IN MOROCCO
SEE THE CHEFCHAOUEN FALLS
Hike the waterfalls and enjoy the beautiful blue-washed walls of Chefchaouen. This small city winds its way up the mountains of the Rif range and is rich with Berber culture and famous for its stunning blue-washed architecture; a definite must-see. Snap some photos as you weave your way through the azure architecture and around the local waterfall. Take a hike around the Rif mountains and end your day back in the medina – city center – with a warm cup of mint tea.
SKI IN THE SWITZERLAND OF MOROCCO
Snow might not be the first image that comes to mind when you think of north Africa, but the “Switzerland of Morocco” in Ifran is located within a half hour from our Azrou Home-Base. Complete with ski resorts, challenging hikes, and of course beautiful cabins and landscapes, this is the perfect nearby weekend escape.
TAKE A HIKE IN CEDAR FORESTS
The cedar forests surrounding Azrou not only provide breathtaking landscapes, but also are an important source of fuel for the community and materials for local artisans. Take a hike through these forests, and catch a glimpse of Morocco’s barbary apes in the tree tops.
HANG TEN IN ESSAOUIRA
Save a day or two to visit this low-key coastal town, and you’ll immediately appreciate its charm — and forget why shoes are a “thing.” In Essaouira, you’ll encounter barefoot travelers enjoying the sand between their toes, local woodworkers, and surfers chasing the break as you wander the strand along the shore. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Essaouira during June, you may just catch the annual Gnaoua Festival, featuring world music and drawing crowds by the hundred thousand.
Marrakech — known as the Pink City — will be sure to captivate. As you navigate the old city’s narrow streets, you may choose to barter with local merchants peddling from handcarts, visit the artisan quarter, or ogle the snake charmers in the main square. Come nightfall, the air over the city fills with smoke and sound, as it transforms into the world’s largest open-air eatery, with vendors touting an impressive selection of meat, and vegetables, as they cook on the roaring barbecues.
VISIT THE CITY OF FEZ
As you wander the 8,000 ancient, serpentine streets of Fez, you’ll be transported to another time. In Fez, a city that is literally thousands of years old, the colors and smells of the spice markets will flood your senses as local people vending leather goods and rugs call out to you, and five times a day, the Adhan — Muslim call to prayer — fills the arid sky. Around every corner in Fes lies a reminder that you are, in the best way possible, far from home.
If you’re looking to pack some extra international experiences into your time abroad, you’ve got great options. Volunteering in Morocco makes Spain and Gibraltar, not to mention Egypt, super accessible. So be sure to save some pages in your passport!
SPA DAY AT A HAMMAM
A visit to the hammam is not your typical day at the spa. Trade in your usual mani/pedi for a Moroccan steam, scrub, and shower, and you won’t be sorry. These traditional bathhouses are not just a great place to unearth that youthful glow, — you’ll be shocked when you see what a little elbow grease and exfoliation can do — they also serve as a very interesting window into Moroccan culture and will likely debunk any preconceptions that you may harbor about the role of women in Morocco.
CAMEL RIDE IN THE SAHARA
Cross one more item off your bucket list when you climb atop a camel for a ride into the desert expanse. Once you reach the Berber campsite, you’ll enjoy a traditional dinner of tagine — all sorts of delicious things made even more delicious when cooked together in a clay pot — and sip tea as the sun sets behind the dunes. Whether you choose to spend the night in a tent or under the Saharan stars, the most important part is waking up in time to catch the sunrise; trust us.
HOME BASE ACCOMMODATIONIN MOROCCO
Cozy up in a traditional Moroccan home on the outskirts of Azrou. In your three-story Home-Base, you’ll engage in cultural activities in the large living area, learn to make your favorite Moroccan dishes in a beautiful kitchen, and relax in bedrooms and additional living areas on the top two floors. When it’s time to unwind after a day of volunteer service, check out the beautiful views of the Atlas Mountains from our rooftop deck, or warm up during cooler months in the in-house hamam. Within a 10 minute walk from your new home, you’ll find shops, cafes,
and banks to meet all of your needs, and to truly become part of the community.
And then there’s the food in Morocco. As we prepare for meals, the Home-Base will be filled with the delicious scents of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and cumin reflecting the rich cultural heritage of Moroccan cuisine. From flavorful pancake msmm to hearty meats prepared in a tagine to Moroccan tea, volunteers consistently rave about the tastes and smells of Moroccan cuisine.
WORDS FROM OUR REPRESENTATIVE IN MOROCCO
I fight for the education of vulnerable women, children, and those with developmental disabilities to combat illiteracy and increase opportunities to continue formal schooling.
Growing up in a rural village of Morocco where many children didn’t have the opportunity to attend school, I see myself in many of the children volunteers work with. Very close to home, my mother is also illiterate; and I have seen the impacts of illiteracy on early mortality rates, high fecundity, malnutrition, and high infant mortality. Literacy and education is a key social issue in Morocco to improve the lives and futures of women and children. I was fortunate to earn a degree in Economics & Management and continued my work toward improving my community through the Peace Corps as the Safety & Security Manager, coming full circle from a turning point in my life after meeting a Peace Corps volunteer as a teenager.
I am proud to serve as a humanitarian and educator to promote peace and understanding across a broad range of cultures. As an international leader, my work with volunteers and with my community inspires me to do my part to create a world where every child has the opportunity to pursue an education, and to receive the compassion and love they deserve.