Girls, especially in underserved populations and especially in rural areas, are faced with too many challenges when it comes to education and only few consider STEM careers as an option. In fact, due to social pressure, most of them drop school at an early age (around 57% drop out after primary school) whether to get married or to work as a maid in the city to support their families financially.
Despite the regulations, the problem persists as their families face a lack of educational and economic opportunities, limited access to health care and other cultural factors. And even when parents see education as a bridge to a better future for their daughters, very few girls who continue their studies choose to major in STEM because they lack STEM resources and role models. Moreover, today’s curriculum does not allow them to learn how to use the knowledge they have acquired to solve problems in the real world. Most of these girls lose their self-confidence and do not see themselves as capable of taking up such “prestigious” careers.
In September 2021, through our NGO LOOP for Science & Technology, we initiated a new project: Empowering Girls in Rural Areas through STEM. Through this program, and in order to boost girls’ motivation in rural areas, we worked closely with the Ministry of Education and teachers to help them create an inclusive learning friendly environment that engages girls and boys equally in STEM learning as well as encourages and guides learners on how they can cope with the difficulties they experience. As we know, the role of teachers is very crucial in this process: The teachers are very close to the students and are highly respected in these communities.
With the program we were able to access 100% of Moroccan regions (instead of 41%) and 60% of school districts (initially it was only 21%). Furthermore, our gender equality targets were met as we were able to achieve a participation rate of 52-54% girls, compared to a usual rate of 32% in previous years.