A project by Lillehammer University College, Norway
Ait Abdi is a small Berber village in the High Atlas Mountains, situated in the province of Al Haouz in Morocco. Most of the people in the mountain areas of Alhaouz are Berbers. The inhabitants are considered as very poor and the illiteracy is relative high, especially among the older people. Great efforts that has been done by the Moroccan authorities to obtain a spatial leveling of the national territory, and to improve the living standards in the rural areas. This has been done by ambitious programs, which are especially dedicated to development (opening up rural roads, developing the school system, electrification, conveyance of drinking water, etc.) in the marginal zones of the country, both in the rural and urban areas. In spite of this, it still exist important pockets of economic, social and cultural poverty and exclusion. On May 18, 2005, King Mohammed VI delivered a historical speech in which he announced the launching of the National Initiative for Human Development (NIHD) as a far-reaching step to fight poverty and exclusion. Today there are still many deficits and challenges, and there is a consensus that the substantial efforts from now on must be particularly directed in the favor of the children, women and the people in the mountain regions.
Ait Abdi is situated on a ridge approximately two and a half hours drive from the city of Marrakesh. The village is spread on three different localities in walking distance from each other. It has its own mosque. About 35 families are living in the village, most of them earning their living from small-scale farming. The young children (up to 12 years) have their own primary school in the village. The older children in secondary school (up to 15 years) have to walk about 30 minutes to a neighbor village to come to their school. The houses of Ait Abdi are built of clay bricks. The roofs are flat. Animals are also kept in the house. The houses usually has a toilet (French style) and electricity (new).Before 2012 the inhabitants had to carry water from a well. After 2012 the whole village was supplied with water with the help of a pump. Mobile phones can be used in the village.
In our pilot project in Ait Abdi, we addressed the developmental conditions and dreams of children and young people. Teachers, children and their parents, as well as men and women from older generations, were interviewed about their daily life and experience of school and education today and before. The interview also addressed the children´s dreams of their future life addressing basic dimension such as school/education, family, work and friend relations. One important finding in the pilot project points to a tension between tradition and modernity, a tension that characterize the the children´s present daily life and as well as their conceptualization of their future life. This tension was expressed more or less as a contradiction between:
The children seems to be living in crossfire between the values and practices of the traditional Berber village life and their dreams of a more modern life in urban areas. One of our goals is to support the children in finding constructive solutions of this conflict, and to support them in their creation of new local opportunities and their development of competences in order to handle the present tension in their present everyday life and in their future.