Outdoor Pursuits leader revisits Morocco nursery project
During the half term break Ben Parker (Head of Outdoor Pursuits) revisited the nursery school in Morocco constructed by Perse Students from PES Summit 12. We hope you enjoy reading his report below.
“Back in July 2013 whilst conducting a reconnaissance trip to Morocco for a potential Perse Exploration Society expedition I met a man called Hamid who lived in the remote village of Arg, deep within the High Atlas Mountains of North Africa. At the time he was acting as a guide showing me the various trekking routes up on Jebel Toubkhal, the highest mountain in North Africa. He spoke passionately about the need for a nursery school in his village owing to the long distances that had to be covered to reach the nearest school. This set in motion a series of events which led to the launching the PES Summit 12 Morocco 2014 expedition.
Over the months that followed students in PES Summit 12 raised in excess of £14,000 for the construction of the nursery school and strong ties with the village leaders of Arg began to emerge. In early August 2014, after much preparation, 48 students set out to Morocco undertaking an eight day trek and eight days of construction work at the site of the nursery school in two separate groups. Sixteen days is not a huge amount of time in which to construct a school when you take into account that it was to be built on a mountain side and access to the site was only possible by foot along a 500m track wide enough to accommodate two people at a push. Students however persevered in the intense summer heat and left having completed the shell of the building (walls, roof, windows and exterior plaster). This was an outstanding achievement and far beyond the predicted schedule of construction. The village council and employed builders were provided with the funds to complete the project. In the weeks that followed we were sent pictures and updates on how the project was going, however students never got the chance to see the students receiving lessons in the school that they had built.
Fortunately, over February half term I had the opportunity to travel back to Morocco on holiday and revisited the nursery school to see how things had progressed. I was completely taken aback by just how far the project had developed. Students were undertaking lessons as I arrived and the school is being used by students throughout the valley six days a week. There are also plans to construct a space for a women’s collective, making weaved products, on the first floor with the remaining money. The village leaders, the builders we had worked alongside and Hamid himself were all there and emphasised their thanks for the hard work of our students. To see the school in full use and students receiving education was excellent. The PES Summit 12 students of 2014 should be extremely proud of their hard work and of what has been achieved.
The Outdoor Pursuits Department will continue to organise trips to Morocco in future years to continue developing the school in line with local requests for a year round electricity and heating supply. To date the construction of the nursery school in Morocco is the largest international community project conducted by the Perse Exploration Society and a true testament to the hard work and motivation of our pupils.”