Cases of rape and violence against students residing in boarding schools and those from socially fragile backgrounds have been identified in a new study by the Higher Council for Education, Training and Scientific Research (CSEFRS) and the Fonds United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The study carried out by the CSEFRS highlights the presence of violence within schools in Morocco. According to data from the report viewed by MoroccoLatestNews prior to its publication, exchanges between field research teams and some boarding school residents revealed that these establishments are not spared from cases of violence, including sexual assault and harassment.
During interviews conducted as part of this study, some boarding students themselves admitted to the existence of violence, sometimes including acts of sexual violence and/or rape. These findings, reported in the document, led to the referral of two cases to UNICEF’s Protection Unit for follow-up.
The social vulnerability of students residing in boarding schools and student hostels contributes to their exposure to violence, indicates the report of the High Council for Education, Training and Scientific Research, which highlights the fact that some students spend several months in these establishments without being able to visit their families in precarious conditions, and this when they are often very young children.
This situation of social vulnerability of students residing in boarding schools and student hostels is a factor that exposes them to violence, underlines the report of the Council.
Faced with this reality, the Council insistently underlines the need to adopt urgent measures aimed at protecting students residing in boarding schools and student hostels against violence, while seeking to remedy the harmful consequences of any violence on their future.
The number of boarding schools in primary education in Morocco reaches 107 boarding schools, welcoming 10,685 students, including 4,922 girls, and 305 students benefiting from student hostels, including 74 girls, according to statistics from the Ministry of National Education, Primary education, and Sports for the 2020-2021 school year.
The same source also specifies that the number of secondary school students residing in boarding schools reached 49,018, including 24,766 girls, and 29,090 benefiting from student hostels, including 15,708 girls. The qualifying high schools host 51,319 students, including 26,149 girls, and 11,028 benefit from student hostels, including 6,309 girls.
Thus, the Council warns against violence and harassment targeting this category of students, including by educational staff. It highlights their vulnerability due to family estrangement, economic and social precariousness, as well as gender or possible disability. Child protection mechanisms must be developed to prevent and reduce violence.
Despite efforts to get rural children into school, cases of rape require heightened vigilance, especially to protect girls from sexual harassment. In this regard, the Council calls for the creation of a reporting system allowing children to denounce attacks and harassment, with prior awareness raising.