By Fatima Zohra Bouaziz
Rabat, 24 November (efe-epa) – A gardening school, the first in Morocco and the southern Mediterranean, is helping young people from poorer areas with less access to education to gain a gardening qualification.
The Bouregreg Med-O-Med Gardening School was created on a landslide where the Oulja dump used to be, an illegal landfill on the eastern outskirts of Salé, which, thanks to the project, has been rehabilitated in recent years.
A total of 90 students, a quarter of them women, are currently studying across the three different grades taught by the school.
Age is no barrier as people up to 40 years old are eligible to attend but everyone must meet the essential requirement of social risk.
“They are required to know how to read and write, that is to say, they must have a minimum level of fourth-grade education, although during their training they are also given classes in Arabic, French and Spanish,” said the school’s director, Spaniard ToaTorán Romero, adding that the school’s good reputation has lead to a long waitlist of potential students.
The school ensures free food and transport, thanks in part to a bus company which provides travel to the school free of charge.
Students come mainly from slums or shantytowns on the outskirts of Rabat, Salé, Temara and Kenitra, a stark contrast from the embassies and private mansions where they often carry out gardening work.
“From the first year onwards, we are asked to use of students’ services in the gardens of diplomatic sites, villas and hotels”, says Inés Eléxpuru, communications director at the Islamic Culture Foundation (FUNCI), the organisation responsible for the project together with the Moroccan Development Agency for the Bouregreg Valley.
Imane, a second-year gardening student, told Efe she has already started earning money by caring for private gardens in upscale neighbourhoods.