The Berberes are the oldest inhabitants of Morocco. Their language, along with Arabic, is the official language of the country.
We visited the Kchait Primary School in the outskirts of Ait-Ben-Haddou. We traveled across the High Atlas Mountains, the highest point in Morocco, to get there.
Principal Tastift Mohamed greeted us with a huge smile and a hearty laugh. He is front and center in the group pictured above. Like the first school we visited on our trip, it is small and isolated. They also lack water and toilet facilities. However, whereas the first school educated children from an Arab tribe, Kchait caters to the Berbere community that it is part of. Berbere is the language of instruction along with Arabic, and French is introduced after the third grade.
With only three classrooms, multi-age grouping is a way of life. The school sorely lacks instructional materials.
While there, a contingent of parents were proposing to the principal that each day a family volunteers to prepare lunch for the students and bring it to the school so that the children would not have to make the long round trip to and from the school.
Food, water and toilets are necessities of life that these children lack on a daily basis.
Written on a wall in the town was the proverb, “Be the son of anyone you want, but just be educated.”
In spite of the poverty and the lack of the many things we take for granted, what these parents and their children want most of all is an education.
They walk or ride their bikes to school for miles. They dream of the way their lives will be but are happy with the way they are.
Daniel A. Domenech is the executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association