Innovative practice - 'Adoptions' in Morocco

A former banker is promoting partnerships between businesses and schools to boost entrepreneurship

The background

After 24 years working as a banker, Mhammed Abbad Andaloussi became worried about the skills school-leavers had in his home country of Morocco.

"I've always had three passions - education, education, education," he says. "During my prolonged experience in the banking sector, I noticed that the private sector suffered from a lack of the human resources needed to improve its competitiveness."

So he began to explore ways to involve businesses more closely in schools. He was driven, he says, not just to help businesses but his country as a whole. "I strongly believe there is a short-cut to reduce the gap between developing countries and developed countries - the short-cut is excellent schools."

The approach

Mr Andaloussi's idea was to encourage businesses to "adopt" schools. The companies could give the schools monetary support, but the stress was on "true engagement in school management and in assimilating the entrepreneurial spirit".

The project, Al Jisr ("the bridge"), was launched in 1999. It required businesses to set up a "school support committee" with their adopted institution, undertake a needs assessment, then develop a one-year action plan.

"We don't tell the businesses what to do," Mr Andaloussi says. "They decide with the school committee what they have to do."

The approaches companies use, range from bringing in teaching experts from the International Baccalaureate Organisation, to flying teachers out to look at methods in other countries, to introducing chess and sailing.

Many of the firms have sent in executives to work with pupils for a few hours each week on entrepreneurial projects in which the students run their own real business for five months.

Tips from the scheme

Mr Andaloussi says it was not easy to persuade businesses that they needed to get properly involved rather than just giving money. His tips include:

argue that when you invest in education, you invest in your future;

stress that this will look good for their corporate social responsibility;

point out the poor reputation businesses can have with young people.

Evidence that it works?

More than 300 schools have signed up to the scheme and it has benefited an estimated 150,000 students so far. A poll of pupils who had taken part in the entrepreneurship projects found that 30 per cent of students who had participated had created their own business by the time they were 25.

Al Jisr was one of the award-winners at last year's World Innovation Summit on Education (WISE) and Mr Andaloussi received the Clinton Global Initiative's Global Citizenship Award in September 2011.


Project: Al Jisr

Approach: Getting businesses to adopt a school

Led by: Mhammed Abbad Andaloussi

Started: 1999

The schools

Institution: More than 300 schools in Morocco

Pupils: Around 150,000.

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