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Monday, May 16, 2005

American School of Agadir

Last year, while spending a few days in my hometown Agadir (southern coastal city in Morocco), I bumped into the administrator of my old primary school at a local supermarket. After exchanging a few words about our respective lives and families, he talked to me about an idea he had been entertaining for some time. The idea was to open an American school in Agadir, which would make it the first of its kind in the south of Morocco. I became immediately excited about the idea given my interest in human development in general and my desire to see Morocco's young be given opportunities for better and more meaningful education - not to forget my own personal journey. I immediately joined him in the planning process making various contacts and helping with bureaucratic matters, while he pushed to resolve important infrastructure and logistical issues.

A year after that supermarket conversation, I am pleased to announce that this important project will finally see the light of day this summer. The American school will open its doors in the city of Agadir, providing new education opportunities to local pupils between the ages of 3 and 10. I am extremely proud of the discipline and dedication shown by my friend in making this project come to fruition. I hope that the school, born entirely out of a private and local initiative (No government support), can benefit from the support of individuals in both countries. I hope that this new institution can become an effective platform for inter-cultural dialogue and an important engine for positive change.


16 Comments:

Anonymous ninine said...

bonjour Jawad,
Voilà une très bonne nouvelle, le maroc avait bien besoin de personnes comme toi pour le faire évoluer.
L'ecole américaine se trouvant à marrakech a une assez importante notoriété, sauf que les élèves qui s'y inscrivent sont issus de familles assez aisées matériellement.
Je pense qu'il serait préférable que les frais de scolarisation ne soient pas exhorbitants.
Bref, toutes mes félicitations, en menant à bout ce projet, tu me prouves encore une fois que le maroc peut être fière de ses enfants ;)

May 16, 2005

 
Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

That's a great idea! Hopefully it work out, and will grow into a system of good higher education as well.

May 16, 2005

 
Blogger Jeffrey J. Williams said...

Congratulations! It's refreshing to see a person work hard to realize their dream. Best of Luck!

May 16, 2005

 
Blogger laurenbove said...

C'est fabuleux, chéri! Bonne chance.

May 16, 2005

 
Blogger Myrtus said...

WOW what a great accomplishment! Congratulations Jawad.
Allah yjazikoum belkhayr!

May 16, 2005

 
Blogger Myrtus said...

I love Agadir! I had the best time over there on a trip way back when I was 20. My brother-in-law used to be a chief of police over there, he's retired now.

Hey you guys, Agaderians are the nicest people! I couldn't believe how openminded and progressive they were even back then. They have one of the nicest beaches and the nightlife...oh my! (:

And now an American school! YAY!

May 16, 2005

 
Blogger Khalij-Khazar said...

Alhamdulillah we have good people on this planet...best of wishes!

May 16, 2005

 
Blogger Karim said...

Jawad,

I clicked on the banner to see if I can access the school's website, but only got a magnified view. I am a little bit curious: what does the label "American" means in this context? Did the school hire american personnel? Does the school teach an american curriculum (one may wonder if that's adequate in a moroccan context), or is it mostly about the methodology? Are the teachers properly trained? If you could please say a little more about the school, I would be more than grateful.

May 17, 2005

 
Blogger Jawad said...

Slt Ninine: Merci du compliment mais c vrmnt mon ami au Maroc qui mérite toutes les accolades. Concernant les frais, le problème c'est que pour avoir des profs qualifiés et les convaincre de quitter les US et aller vivre au Maroc, il faut les payer des salaires qui dépasse même ce qui est considéré un bon salaire au Maroc. Donc, t'es oblige de récupérer ces coûts par voie des frais. Ce que je suis entrain de faire ici aux US c'est de trouver des moyens d'aide pour permettre aux enfants pauvres de bénéficier de cette éducation sans mettre l'école en faillite. Je suis entrain de faire un peu de progrès ds ce domaine, mais ce qui est important mnt est que l'école ouvre ses portes – ça veut dire, qu’elle existe d’abords.

Hi Karim: Great question. The principal and the teachers are American - although this does not matter so much over the long term. The curriculum as well as the daily program is built according to the American system. That is, school times are 8am-3pm and class subjects and activities are modeled on what you'd find in most schools in the US. However, as you know, you can not just plant an entire system without regard for the surrounding environment. So, adjustments are made to take into account both national and local factors and more emphasis is put on important topics like math, science, communication, as well as subjects that nurture innovation, team-work, and responsibility. You may know that there are 6 other American schools in Morocco (3 in Casablanca, 1 in Rabat, 1 in Tangiers, and 1 in Marrakech[new]). So, the experiences of those schools were taken into account in the planning process and the overall public response to them was evaluated. The new school in Agadir will not be a carbon-copy of one of those schools. It will distinguish itself both in terms of method and substance. Both the principal and the administrator have over 20 years experience in education so they are not shooting in the dark so to speak. However, one realizes that this is the beginning and as I told my friend: Now, the hard work will start and it's never gonna get easier. Regarding teachers, they are trained in the US and have the necessary quals, which makes them expensive and this is mainly why the school fees are relatively high as I explained to Ninine. But, I am trying to find ways to get help for the kids. So, please do not be timid about sharing ideas. We really do need lots of help. BTW, no website yet.

Myrtus: Thanx. U need to go again soon. It has changed quite a bit - More fun :)

Lauren: Merci coquette :)

Irina: Thanks. Hope so too.

Jeff W: Welcome and Thank you.

May 17, 2005

 
Blogger Karim said...

Thanks Jawad for the answer.

"So, please do not be timid about sharing ideas."

Well, one idea that may make a difference (costwise) in the long run would be simply to hire American-trained Moroccan teachers. I think there is an opportunity here for young Moroccans who can afford to come here and study in the US to get degrees in Education and then go back and work in such schools, which would considerably lower the overhead of hiring Americans. I realize there aren't many Moroccans who are rich or lucky enough to study in the US, but people may be able to take loans if the demand is high for that kind of qualification and if they are assured to find a job upon graduation. This is something I would eagerly advocate among my family members and friends back in Morocco.

(There might also be opportunities for educators in Morocco -- if the market grows large enough -- to make good profits in the textbook market by adapting American curricula to the Moroccan context.)

I am not sure the above ideas will be of any help :( But I promise to let you know if I can think of anything else.

May 17, 2005

 
Blogger Myrtus said...

oh I would love to go there again. My siter moved back up north after her husband retired, but I also have a brother who married a girl from Agadir. When I was there, her family gave me the best birthday party I ever had. They made me eat shark too yummm...her father is a fisherman...it was a great seafood bonanza the whole way. (:


Those are great ideas Karim, they certainly would enhance the mutual exchange and cooperation in the education process.

Hey Jawad, here is a friend of mine who would love the honor if you guys ever need somebody to design the website.

http://www.maghribistyle.com/

May 17, 2005

 
Blogger laurenbove said...

Mon plaisir, mon petit chou.

May 18, 2005

 
Blogger Jonathan said...

This is wonderful news and I'm really excited for you, your friend, and most importantly, the pupils. As a response to Karim's idea, about finding American-trained Moroccans interested in international education, there is one organization which I would like to highlight as a potential recruitment point: The United World College (UWC) movement, and particularly the US affiliated arms of that movement.

Shelby Davis, a philanthropist who made his millions in the Davis Fund, has been funding UWC students from all over the world to go and study in the US at five US universities. There are many Moroccan students who've gone through these programs, and given the ideals of the UWC—service, community, development, as well an emphasis on returning to one's own country to servce—as well as my experience with the students themselves, some of these folks will be interested and will make good candidates. Why not write a quick note to the administrator of the UWC America center to let him know of the school? He could then circulate the notice to the big (huge, actually) UWC network and who knows, you might get a few teachers. If you are interested, I'll try to find a link and send it along; just an idea.

Congratulations on a terrific sounding project. Good for you!

May 20, 2005

 
Blogger Jawad said...

Thank you so much for the advice. I will definitely follow up on the UWC track. Please don't be shy with advice as I told Karim before. We are at the begining of this thing and we need all the help and guidance we can get.

June 02, 2005

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Jawad,

I would like to get some more information about the school. My family will be moving to Agadir in August and my daughter should start 5th grade in September. Please send me info as far as price start date and location. Thank you in advance for any information you can give. Please contact me at taythad@comcast.net
Best regards,
Jaime

June 21, 2005

 
Blogger Jawad said...

Hi Jaime:

Welcome. I sent you an email with prelim info on the school. Please let me know if you need any other info about the school, Agadir, or Morocco in general.

June 22, 2005

 

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