Michelle Obama in Morocco, US Government Announces new Investments to Promote Girls’ Education

As First Lady Michelle Obama is paying a visit to Morocco this June 27-29 part of the Let Girls Learn initiative she is spearheading, the US government announced on Tuesday new investments to promote girls’ education in the North African country.

“The U.S. Government announces new programming in Morocco to help address the unique barriers that prevent girls’ access to an education. Through these programs, the U.S. Government hopes to improve the future for adolescent girls in Morocco,” says the White House in a fact sheet on the First Lady’s visit to Morocco and on the new investments.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has thus announced on Tuesday a nearly $100 million investment in a new model for secondary education in Morocco.

In partnership with the Moroccan Government, the MCC investment is expected to benefit about 100,000 students, including 50,000 adolescent girls through activities that will address the particular learning needs of adolescent girls.

A new $4.6 million Education for Employability Partnership Fund, included in this investment, will engage the private sector and NGOs to develop innovative programs for middle and high school students that address the unique needs of girls and work to reduce social and gender inequalities in Morocco, the White House release says.

The USAID on its part announced a new $400,000 investment in a local NGO to establish five new girls’ dorms (known as “Dar Talibas”) to provide housing and support for rural girls to continue their education. The new dormitories will be ready by the next school year.

Princess Lalla Salma, spouse of King Mohammed VI, greeted the First lady and her accompanying two daughters, Sasha and Malia, upon arrival in Marrakesh on Monday.

The First lady is to participate this Tuesday in a conversation with adolescent girls moderated by CNN’s anchor Isha Sesay. She will be joined by actress Meryl Streep and Indian actress Freida Pinto, who are both advocates for girls’ education.

The discussion will focus on the challenges many girls in the region face in getting a quality education. Major barriers to adolescent girls’ enrollment include the limited number of middle and secondary schools particularly in rural areas, and the lack of safe and affordable transportation options available to girls traveling to school. These factors contribute to the low high school completion rates for girls, a rate standing at only 14 percent in some rural areas.

“I am so proud that the U.S. is working with the Moroccan Government to make these transformative new investments to educate and empower girls across Morocco – investments that will help these girls succeed in the workforce and fulfill their boundless promise,” the White House release quoted Michelle Obama as saying.

The White House also announced that Morocco will become, in the coming months, Peace Corps’ 36th Let Girls Learn country. The Peace Corps will train incoming volunteers and community leaders to advance girls’ education and empowerment, and will work with local leaders to focus on girls’ development through a renewed focus on building critical skills for leadership and employment.

After her trip in Marrakesh, Michelle Obama will fly to Madrid to speak to girls and young women about the power of education and urge them to do their part to help girls worldwide fulfill their promise.

She will share with the audience the stories of girls she met during her visit to Morocco – and her prior travels – and highlight new commitments to support Let Girls Learn. While in Spain, the First Lady will also meet with Queen Letizia.

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