This month, we would like to spotlight one of the associations supported by BMS, Association Assafou. Assocation Assafou was instrumental in organising the distribution of the food packages purchased through the BMS Ramadan Fundraiser.
Our BMS administrator Ella interviewed Assafou’s President, Abdelkrim Ouachikh, about the work of the association, the importance of preschool education in the Atlas Mountains, and how Association Assafou’s work has been impacted by Covid-19.
Can you tell me a little more about Association Assafou and your main aims?
Assafou Association for Development is a non-profit organisation founded in 2011. The head office is located in Tahnaout. Our main aims are to:
And what are the main projects that you run?
The Association runs 11 preschool centres and women’s centres for local craft trades within the rural Al Haouz region. In the 2020-2021 school year, over 250 children were enrolled in the preschool centres.
We also work in the development of sustainable rural tourism and in raising awareness among the population and local associations about the importance of preserving the environment and the local cultural and artistic heritage.
Do you work with any partners?
We work with a number of partners including Travel Link, the British Moroccan Society, Saga Foundation and Childreach International.
What is the main way in which the BMS been involved with Association Assafou?
The Talataste Preschool Centre in Tighdouine, one of Assafou Association’s 11 preschool centres in Al Haouz, is fully supported by the BMS, including training, textbooks and teacher fees.
In the 2020/2021 school year, there were 12 girls and 18 boys at the centre.
Since the centre’s opening in 2010, over 190 children have been enrolled in the preschool.
Why is preschool education so important in the region?
Preschool education is one of our priorities due to the lack of preschool education in rural areas of the Atlas Mountains. It’s very important that children in our region can access preschool education because the spoken language, Amazigh, makes adapting to primary school difficult. If children haven’t learnt Arabic in preschool, they can have difficulties adapting to the Arabic and French used in primary schools. Our main objective is to help local children learn Arabic in preparation for going to primary school.
Without the preschool centres offered by Assafou, are there other preschool options for families?
Assafou has been running since 2011 in rural areas where no other government preschools are available. More recently, the government has made it a priority to construct preschools next to local primary schools to ensure education for all citizens in rural areas, but this is still a work in progress.
How has your work been impacted by Covid-19?
Just like everyone else, Association Assafou has been impacted by Covid-19. We have been restricted by the national lockdown and there have been no visits to our centers in over a year. During the lockdown, we collected money to help people in need of food and basic supplies and distributed around 2000 baskets of food in rural villages.
All of our activities were interrupted, including our classes and our projects providing sustainable tourism and development in the areas where the preschool centres are built.
And finally, what is Association Assafou’s next project?
During Covid-19, we have encountered difficulties in terms of internet connection since all the centres are located in mountain villages with a weak connection network.
Our next project is focused on the Talataste Centre and we are looking to renew the classroom including establishing internet connection and providing computers. This will help us in teaching the younger generations how to use technology in order to give children in rural areas the same opportunity that urban children have. This action will be undertaken in collaboration with the BMS.