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ILHAM HADDADI (center, sitting)


'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  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.'

Education can transform the life of a girl. It can empower her to achieve her dreams.

This post first appeared on Olive Seed.

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