Apart from fighting for the demands and the interests of education workers in Morocco, the National Education Union (FDT) also fights to improve the public schools through its engagement with government policies in the field of education and training.
For a number of reasons, a crowd of students leave school annually without completing their primary studies - some 600,000 students in 2000. As a result, these children end up working from an early age in workshops that do not meet the most basic standards, and where they are subjected to both physical and mental violence;but actually, these children should be in school.
The National Education Union has been proactive in uncovering this heinous profiteering off of children, who find themselves exploited in the job market, in workshops, and as domestic servants, or sellers of plastic bags and cigarettes, etc. The National Education Union completed a study in 2003 on the causes of school drop-outs, which lead to child labour, in partnership with international organisations, especially the Dutch Education Union (AOb).
A field study completed with AOb led to the development of a programme in partnership with the National Education Union (FDT) in Fez (2004-2007) as a pilot programme. The goal was to limit drop-outs in five primary schools in order to retain students in the pursuit of their studies, and to raise awareness among their parents about the risks of child labour. Since the study confirmed that some students leave school due to vision problems, special attention was given to these students. They were provided prescription glasses. In total, the project provided over 311 pairs of prescription glasses for the 5 target schools, as part of the project to fight against child labour through anti-drop-out efforts from 2004 to 2007.
Number of students receiving prescription glasses in Fez, Morocco
Aouniat Hajjaj School
18 November School
Imam Al-Ghazali School
Al-Shuhada District School
After the programme to combat child labour through anti-drop-out efforts (2004-2007) was evaluated by an expert, it was affirmed based on his experience that the project achieved its goals in reducing the drop-out rate by more than 80%. The prescription glasses given to students with vision problems were among the most important methods of reducing the drop-out rate, as the children's achievement rates rose from poor to moderate or good.
The achievement of this programme's goals enabled the National Education Union, along with AOb/FNE, to develop another programme (2009-2012) targeting over 32,690 students from 29 different primary schools in five Moroccan cities: Fez, Meknes, Larache, El Jadida, and Marrakech.
Drop-outs before project launch
29 primary schools
In this programme, the 2,320 pairs of prescription glasses distributed played a key role in reducing drop-outs, as shown in the table above.
In partnership with FNV, the preventive and remedial project "A Safi Free of Child Labour" was carried out in the city of Safi. This programme targeted children who had already left school, as well as students at risk of leaving, with more than 1,825 pairs of prescription glasses distributed among 12 educational institutions over a three-year period (2013-2015). These glasses also had a positive impact in limiting drop-outs and combating child labour. In the first year, we registered zero drop-outs, according to the regional deputy in the Ministry of National Education in Safi.
Working within the framework of the anti-child labour programme, the National Education Union (FDT), together with its partners AOb/FNV and ISCOD, also endeavored to distribute prescription glasses to students with vision problems in the northern Moroccan cities of Larache, El-Ksar El-Kebir, Ouazzane and Chefchaouen; 16 primary education institutions were targeted in these cities, and 2,800 pairs of glasses were distributed.
The total number of prescription glasses distributed through programmes to combat child labour through anti-drop-out efforts is more than 7,256 pairs.
Credit is due, of course, to the friendly organisations with which the National Education Union (FDT) has been involved, EI, ISCOD, AOb, FNV, and Morocco's Ministry of National Education, as well as the National Education Union activists who became involved in the project.
What is the impact of distributing prescription glasses on combating child labour and reducing school drop-outs?
In internal studies and evaluation meetings with the union’s partners, everyone agreed that giving prescription glasses to students strengthens their chance to succeed in school, and therefore makes them less likely to drop-out early.
The success of this operation and its role in the fight against child labour has caused our partners to continue mobilising material support to combat this phenomenon, and the Dutch Education Union (AOb) may continue to finance these projects together with the National Education Union. Their faith in the projects' efficacy and role in combating child labour has led to the continuity of these programmes.
This month, November 2017, the National Education Union and AOb are preparing to give 500 pairs of prescription glasses to the students of some additional institutions in Fez.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any official policies or positions of Education International.