Morocco: Education unions rally to support earthquake victims

published 28 November 2023 updated 22 March 2024

Two affiliates of Education International (EI) in Morocco, the SNE-FDT and SNE-CDT, have rallied to the aid of people in remote areas of the High Atlas Mountains that were hit by a magnitude 6.8 earthquake on 8 September 2023. Local trade union representatives organised the distribution of school supplies, games, and books in several of the villages affected.

Parcels with exercise books, stationery, and school books were taken to villages such as Talat N’Yaaqoub, in Al Haouz province. Fifty-five kilometres south-west of Marrakech, this village of 8,000 inhabitants was completely destroyed by the earthquake and access to it is still difficult. During phase two of the assistance provided by the SNE-CDT and SNE-FDT, additional school supplies will be distributed in a targeted manner, in line with the recommendations of the local trade union branch. Psychological support will also be provided to teaching staff and their pupils. The disaster claimed the lives of 12 teachers. Many others lost relatives, their homes, and belongings.

The media was particularly moved by the tragic story of Nesreen Abu ElFadel, a teacher from the village of Adaseel, whose 32 pupils all lost their lives in the disaster. She described her students as respectful children who were eager to learn. Despite the difficulties posed by poverty and the rising cost of living, the children and their families saw school as “the most important thing in the world”.

The earthquake left around 3,000 people dead and damaged 530 schools and 55 boarding schools, according to the authorities. In around forty municipalities in the hardest-hit provinces of Al-Haouz, Chichaoua, and Taroudant, children are now being schooled in temporary tents. Although the conditions are challenging, going back to school provides the students and their teachers with a semblance of normality.

Living conditions for those affected by the earthquake remain extremely difficult. Many are still without proper shelter, despite the bitterly cold weather. For all the efforts made by the Moroccan government, over 300,000 people are still waiting to be rehoused.

International solidarity

EI reacted swiftly to the tragedy, demonstrating the global teaching community’s solidarity and support for our sister organisations in Morocco. EI made an emergency aid donation and launched an appeal for solidarity, inviting its affiliates around the world to contribute to the solidarity fund to help Moroccan unions respond to the urgent needs of the teachers affected by the earthquake. Additional resources will be transferred to step up support.

EI and its affiliated organisations in Morocco are deeply grateful to education unions around the world for the solidarity they have shown and the contributions received.