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EBRD and EU help school in Morocco cement its pedagogical excellence

By Stasha  Igrutinovic

Charles Péguy school strives for quality education with business advice

In a calm residential area of Casablanca, children eagerly scurry through the entrance of a modern two-story building, corridors adorned with childhood dreams, and further down the hallways, well-equipped multi-purpose rooms for all kinds of discoveries.

Charles Péguy, a school group in Morocco, carries the name of a renowned French personality, as the traditions of the French education system would prescribe – in this case, a 19th century poet and literary thinker.

Many agree that a strong school should go beyond the basics of a liberal arts and natural sciences-based curriculum. Charles Péguy leads by example. The school applied to receive accreditation as a certified French institution. It operates a bilingual (French-Arabic) system that places great importance on foreign languages, artistic development and the promotion of Moroccan cultural and civic values.

Schools and small businesses: common challenges

Many parents face the make-or-break decision of which school to choose for their children. Perhaps this poses an even bigger dilemma in Morocco, where the education sector faces the challenges of overcrowding facilities, skill gaps in the professional staff and uncertain learning outcomes. Charles Péguy had to contend with all of these when building its name.

The school is the birth child of a vision spearheaded by its founders, Abderrahim and Abdelaziz el-Kettani. They started to develop a pre- and elementary school in 2009 and, within two years, a building was fitted out with 29 classrooms.

Yet, the two had bigger ambitions. They recognised that an educational institution bridging all three cycles of education – pre-school, elementary and college (or “lycée” in French) – was essential to their success. At the same time, there was scope for strengthening teaching capacities and developing better learning outcomes.

When probed on the constraints to developing their strategic plan, Abderrahim and his brother answered that globalisation had given them the sense that they needed to catch up with their peers:

 “To remain competitive vis-à-vis accredited French educational institutions, we had to align our teaching requirements, programmes, objectives and rules with the official French curriculum, especially the textbooks.’’

The roadmap to success

Seven years ago, Charles Péguy entered the first phase of its project with the EBRD with support from the European Union. By that time, the school’s prime location, along with the quality its programme offered, had attracted so many students that it was stretching its capacity to the limits.

This is when the school turned to the EBRD for help. The Bank’s advisory programme assigned the school an expert with over 30 years of experience in the education sector. The consultant helped the owners to transform their vision into strategy, expand their crowded facilities and develop stronger teaching skills for their staff.

From one school year to another, Charles Péguy’s facilities grew to accommodate higher numbers of students. Today, the school has the capacity to enrol 2,300 students in its full-blown “lycée.”

The dreams that drive the children every day and inspire them to succeed fuel the founders’ own aspirations for Charles Péguy.

“In less than seven years, we achieved something that our competitors only managed in 30 or 60 years. By doubling down on our efforts, and reproducing this business model across other areas, we hope to provide quality education to 6,000 students by 2027.”

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