Dropping out of school, especially for girls, is almost a pervasive problem in all Moroccan rural areas. My community is not immune to such problems with which I have been raised bitterly dissatisfied for a long time. What saddens me most is when I see girls, who are cut off from school early in their life, pay the tax bills for their parents’ blind tradition and lack of education.
I have grown up in a countryside located 9 kilometers away from a village called Ain Dorij in Sidi Kacem province of Morocco. Throughout my school life, I have witnessed many cases of girls forced to stop going to school. This has long incited a feeling inside me and pushed me to look for any solution that would bring back the rights of females to resume their education.
The living conditions are poor indeed and some fathers can hardly fulfill their family’s basic needs, let alone providing for education. They therefore feel compelled to make their daughters stay home and try to send only boys to school, and most of the time even boys are unable to attend school. I recall the large proportion of my classmates who reluctantly deserted schools earlier on in their life and went instead to do hard labor, learn a craft or perform any job in nearby cities, whereby they can send their parents money monthly.
It sickens me indeed when I see that my mother doesn’t know how to read or write, unless when it comes to her name with which she has grown accustomed from her familiar scripts. She is one among a zillion others who have never been inside a classroom. She married at the age of 15 years. Ironically, it is the age that girls are supposed to move from secondary to high schools. The patriarchal society is perpetrating a crime against women. Uprooting them from school, sending them to perform hard labor in agricultural fields, and obliging them to marry at a very early age are morally and humanely unacceptable.
I am not against women who aid their parents for the simple reason that they are born and raised in a countryside and should therefore lend a hand to assist their parents. I am simply defending the rights of females to pursue their education. They must be educated to contribute to the welfare of the community and themselves so both can move forward.
If it were in my hands, I would encourage parents to send their children to school (both males and females), sensitize them to the paramount importance education plays in one’s life, and offer advantages for girls that would entice their parents to send them to school.
It is also incumbent on the government to solve this problem by looking for ways to grab parents’ attention to the importance of education. The government can, for example, provide a sum of money for female students in rural areas monthly, and make sure that all females who benefit from the fund are enrolled in school.