This project follows the successful establishment of the Mothers' Preschool in Touama, Morocco, a rural Berber community in the High Atlas Mountains where the primary occupations are agriculture and subsistence farming. Due to poor weather conditions impacting crops, Increasingly men must leave their families for other work in Morocco and other communities. Women wake early and spend most of the day cleaning, cooking, collecting water, caring for livestock, and caring for their children and any other extended family. It's difficult for women to access health care and other services not close to home, yet, as de facto heads of households, women are responsible for ensuring the health and well-being of their children and ensuring they have the skills needed to succeed in school. This is complicated by the fact that, across Morocco, the literacy rates for women are 39.6% and for men 65.7%. In Touama, the literacy rate for women is closer to 10 percent.
This project will replicate the Mothers' Preschool model at five nearby preschools, focused on promoting infrastructure improvements such as creating imaginative learning spaces and forming mothers' committees at each school. The replication will be overseen by the women who founded the original Mothers' Preschool. This project will also result in small business training for the original Mothers' Preschool group and will provide seed funding for them to launch their own business, a toy store that sells toys and crafts they make themselves. Overall, the project will result in better schools, an empowered group of women and the launching of a women-led business in Touama.
To view the original Mothers' Preschool Project, click here: project/mothers-preschool
The Mothers' Preschool program was expanded into more schools to increase collaboration and resources, and to improve access to a quality preschool education in Touama. Through multiple workshops, teachers, local associations, mothers, and artisans were trained on child health, nutrition, behavior, child development, leadership, project design, networking, community development and marketing. The workshops helped the teachers develop networking skills and identify resources within their communities. At the end of the project, the teachers decided to create their own association so they could apply for grants and government assistance directly to keep expanding the program. Through the workshops, the mothers learned how to create a cooperative, how to develop and market products, and how to sell products online. The women learned how to make toys and are currently selling them online, at hotels, and at a new toy store in the central part of town, with the profits benefiting the preschools.
"Before the project we never had an opportunity to get training in health or child development. We didn't know the mothers and didn't work with the other preschool teachers. Now we can help mothers learn about child health and development and improve their understanding about preschool education. We're a resource for mothers and each other." - Senna, Project Participant
"We didn't talk to each other and we didn't have resources to improve preschool education. Because we are a private preschool, we don't benefit from government support. Now we know how to partner with each other and other associations to find resources. We also have new information that will help us improve how we teach." - Hria, Project Participant
"Before this project, many of the women didn't participate in meetings or express their ideas. Over time they learned their ideas were important and became more comfortable participating in school meetings and discussions." - Nadia, Project Participant