School renovations in the suburbs of Casablanca

Initiatives is an association created in 2004 to coordinate support from French multinationals in Casablanca, around development projects  targeting the town’s underprivileged neighborhoods. Over the last 5 years, it has chosen to focus its action on the issue of education,  aiming at improving the living conditions of youngsters and increasing school attendance by renovating schools, organizing visits by companies, and offering remedial classes.

The drawbacks of urban explosion

Lahraouine is one of the poorest districts in the north of Casablanca. “Urbanization has occurred at a stunning rate, favoring accommodation over social infrastructures and other socio-educational amenities.” observes Jamal Hyabi, Manager of Lafarge Morocco’s Communication & Public Relations Department and active member of Initiatives. In this suburb, 40 % of inhabitants are illiterate and children are often excluded from the educational system, with poverty causing them to quit school or fail their studies.

Classrooms for Abdeljalil Benhaida* primary school

The national education department of the Casablanca region asked Initiatives to  renovate and extend Benhaida school, located in the center of Lahraouine. “The school had around 2,600 students, in 35 classrooms; it was vital to build an extension. We started the works with the help of an architecture firm and engineers doing voluntary work,” explains Jamal Hyabi. “The spirit of solidarity around this project was extraordinary.” The pre-fabricated classrooms were replaced by a building with 12 classrooms, as well as a huge playground and a garden. Bathrooms, a pre-requisite for the school to be attended by girls, were also provided. The new building was inaugurated at the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

How does the Air Liquide Foundation support the association?

The Air Liquide Foundation helped building 8 of the 12 new classrooms at Abdeljalil Benhaida school. The President of the Foundation, Benoît Potier, and General Delegate Xavier Drago visited this school. This allowed them to see for themselves the scope of the works undertaken and to meet people from the Initiatives association, the headmistress of the school, teachers and children. In 2010 and 2011, the Air Liquide Foundation had already helped the association rehabilitate and extend Touria Sekkat and Oulad Hraou high schools. Thanks to this support, more than 40,000 children have benefited from better educational conditions. Air Liquide Morocco also took part in a program of visits to companies’ facilities, set up by Initiatives. A significant improvement in students’ high school graduation rates has already been observed.

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* Moroccan writer, teacher, and playwright (1940-1996)

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Testimonials

This really is a socially aware project. Everyone is concerned by children’s education. Air Liquide Morocco’s employees are involved in this project by providing moral support and in the field support to the team.

Didier Prola
Air Liquide Morocco