The WISE Awards*

Activity: Solving the social issue of historical Amazigh underperformance in primary education by bringing their native language into the classroom

Name of the Organization: BMCE BANK Foundation for Education and Environment

Headquarter: Morocco

Geographical reach: Morocco

Number of beneficiaries: 15,000 pupils

Project Representative: Dr. Leïla Mezian Benjelloun


About the Project

The program guarantees a year of pre-school education in poor rural areas, followed by a six-year curriculum leading to the Certificate of Primary Education (CPE). 

In remote rural sites, this program aims to provide quality education that is in harmony with the local cultural environment and open to the universal values of the “” schools (61 to date). The schools form a network that is connected to the Internet via satellite and managed by an administrative coordinator.  

The 420 teachers are overseen by 12 educational supervisors. Education monitoring and real-time management of the school network is facilitated by an information system. The pedagogical design is based on a modern pre-school, open to children aged four and a half. 

* The project received the special mention for “access to education”. This emphasis reflects the support of Qatar Foundation Chairperson Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser for United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 2 on achieving universal primary education. 

Context and Issue

Access to quality basic education in underprivileged rural areas is a challenge for many children and their families around the world. In this context, the presence of pre-primary and primary schools plays a vital role in ensuring younger generations are given a chance to benefit from an education which is relevant to their lives and to their communities. 

The Solution and Impact

The program aims to reconcile the school with its environment using an architectural design that is harmonious with the local heritage and its cultural environment to provide pre-school and primary school education that results in academic achievement, with follow-up until the students’ access to college. These challenges enable the BMCE Bank Foundation, and through it the BMCE Bank, to pay back a debt to the country.

In schools, pre-school is viewed as a gateway to primary school. Classes in elementary school are given in three languages: Arabic (language of instruction), Amazigh/Arabic (native language), and French  (language for opening to the world). 

In addition, the use of new educational technologies in all subjects has been strengthened. Educational and social support to students and their parents is reflected in free tuition, individualized educational support, and functional literacy courses for mothers and young girls not enrolled in school. schools are called upon each year to commemorate more than a dozen national and international days, rights of children, women, environment and culture heritage.

The schools are rural community schools where the curriculum is enhanced to be in harmony with the surrounding community’s culture and open to universal values and to other cultures, and where the teachers are trained to contribute to the social development of the students' families. The schools ensure that pre-school and primary school children have an education based on values, skills development and the educational choices affecting them and that bring sustainable human development to their families through functional literacy, training for income-generating activities and the financing of micro-credits.

In terms of impact, the program currently benefits or has benefited almost 15,000 students, of which nearly 5,000 are currently in high school or in the first year of college. The Ministry of National Education requested the extension of the preschool concept to those schools close to the program. The BMCE Bank Foundation then built and equipped 108 units in neighboring schools where pre-school was not ensured, and trained their teachers, resulting in nearly 10,000 beneficiary children. Almost 3,400 mothers and previously out-of-school girls have been taught by teachers.

Future Developments

With regard to the next steps and future developments, BMCE’s President set the goal of creating 1,001 schools and decided to dedicate four percent of BMCE’s annual wealth (before taxes) to this program. The Foundation decided to build five new schools in Morocco each year (35-40 teachers to train) and one in another African country. The program intends to increase its quality requirements in terms of teaching and learning and to give teachers higher qualifications and increase the use of digital learning resources.

To achieve these objectives over the next five years, it needs to: locate land to build five schools each year; hire an architect and an engineering and control bureau to monitor surveying and prepare architectural plans and specification requirements; and monitor the construction. The program strives to: shift from the current national achievement assessment to an evaluation performed by the school’s pedagogical team; each year, start a pre-school in a new public school near each; support teaching teams to develop school case studies and their school projects.