Magharebia, by Siham Ali (Rabat, Morocco, Oct. 31, 2012) — Morocco first introduced the Tayssir programme to encourage underprivileged families to send their children to school four years ago. Since then, the project has awarded grants to all children in primary or secondary school, at all levels, provided they meet attendance criteria.
Education Minister Mohamed El Ouafa said October 22nd that the government aims to clamp down on school drop-out rates, not only through the Tayssir programme, but also by introducing additional social measures. These range from new school and residential construction to handing out satchels and offering more school transport.
“Education must be given a boost by dealing with the socioeconomic and geographical obstacles which get in the way of school attendance among children in rural areas and from needy families,” the minister said.
The number of beneficiaries in the Tayssir programme rose from 88,000 pupils in 2008 to 670,000 for the 2011-12 academic year, according to education ministry figures. The numbers are expected to reach 783,000 students this year.
School drop-out rates have reduced by 57% and there has been a 37% improvement in pupils returning to school, according to the department running the programme at the education ministry.
These rates show an even greater improvement where the mother receives direct aid from the state. Each family receives between 80 and 100 dirhams for each child attending primary school, and 140 dirhams for each child in secondary school.
The sum may seem small, according to sociologist Samira Kassimi, but “in rural areas where poverty levels are very high, the amount given for three or four children in a family can support the household’s everyday living”
“That aid encourages parents to make less use of their children for various tasks and to encourage them to attend school,” she said.
Kassimi said efforts need to be made to roll out the programme to all underprivileged families and to increase funding for the programme. The project’s budget rose from 54 million dirhams in 2008 to 620 million dirhams in 2012.
Salima Chaouni said that her sister’s life has changed since she started benefiting from the Tayssir programme two years ago.
“She gets 500 dirhams a month because she’s got four children. This help has given her financial stability. Her husband was thinking of taking the eldest one out of school to help her, but now he’s dropped that idea and is encouraging him to go to college,” she said.
Siham El Ouardi, a mother of three, hopes she will soon be able to benefit from the Tayssir programme. She and her husband are seasonal agricultural workers. She has no regular financial income, so she struggles to send her children to school on a regular basis. Her eldest son helps her from time to time, selling plastic bags.
“Sometimes he has to miss school. If they help me, he’ll be able to concentrate on his schooling,” El Ouardi said.