Students, parents and staff from Bristol Grammar School (BGS) have witnessed a landmark moment as fundraising to support boarding schools for girls from rural communities in Morocco has reached £50,000.
The relationship with the project began in 2007, when students visited the North African country to help build the foundations of the first boarding house in partnership with the charity Education For All (EFA) Morocco. By this autumn, there will be five boarding houses in full use with more than 140 girls resident.
The most recent development to have been funded by BGS was the installation of solar water heaters for two of the houses.
The EFA students are all from rural communities and board so they can continue their education after the age of 11 – an opportunity that would not be available to them otherwise because they live too far away from the secondary schools and their families cannot afford basic transport and lodgings.
BGS Assistant Head, Dr Andrew Dimberline, visited the schools to see the solar heaters installed. He said: “Seeing the project develop to the current position is very rewarding.
“Some of the first girls to benefit back in 2007 are now at university in Marrakech and without the project their education would have finished when they were 11.
“With its focus on educating girls, the effect of the project is long term as improving the education of girls is shown to have a positive impact on the educational achievements of their children, helping the next generation as well.”
The £50,000 was raised through a variety of activities, ranging from individuals running a 10k and a parent swimming the distance of the English Channel in a pool, to whole school events, such as Moroccan Day and collections at key events. More than 100 BGS students and parents have visited the boarding houses over the years and the fundraisers work with the boarding house staff and children to determine exactly what support is needed.
As Bristol is the European Green Capital for 2015, it was pleasing that the request was for a green project – with abundant natural sunlight in Morocco, the solar heaters will reduce the boarding houses’ dependence on expensive electricity and bottled gas. This will also help towards the Moroccan government’s target to have 40% of Morocco’s energy from renewable sources by 2020.
Sonia Omar, from Education For All, said: “To have reached £50,000 is a major milestone in terms of fundraising and it is a great privilege to work alongside BGS as they have consistently committed to enabling this project. They are now as much a part of the fabric of school as the buildings themselves.”