Youth_Speak_Toolkit_COVERA new, practical toolkit to use the innovative Youth Speak methodology—a youth-led process of investigating school dropout and mobilizing community action to address it—has been released.

With the support and leadership of Morocco’s Ministry of Education’s Directorate of Non-formal Education, the toolkit will be implemented by Youth Speak teams in 40 middle schools nationwide this year. It will empower the next wave of middle school students to be the instigators and agents of positive change to reduce school dropout and improve conditions for students in their communities.

“After a preliminary assessment and consideration of the success in achieving the objectives of the Youth Speak program, the Directorate of Non-Formal Education plans to introduce this operation as part its new strategic vision to fight against dropouts,” says El Hassane Mahfoudi, Team Leader of the Anti-Dropout Unit at the Directorate of Non-formal Education.

Mahfoudi says the Directorate plans to implement Youth Speak in as many as 60 additional schools in 2016 and 100 more schools the following year.

Up to 400,000 Moroccan students drop out of school each year, and the dropout rate for students in 7th to 9th grade is nearly 11 out of every 100, the Ministry of Education reports.

For a problem centered on the lives of young people and challenges they encounter in pursuing education, previous approaches to the issue have involved surprisingly low levels of youth input and leadership.

“Youth Speak is a project for youth, with youth and by youth,” explains Youssra Bailoul, a Youth Speak leader and student from Tetouan who participated in the program’s original rollout in 2013.

Through the Youth Speak process, youth leaders, both those in school and out-of-school, investigate the factors contributing to students dropping out of the schools in their communities and design solutions based on their findings.

“The goal is for youth to do all the work, not adults. In the past, adults did most of this research. There was not communication between the students and the people who were responsible for the research,” Bailoul says.

Youth Speak was pioneered by Creative Associates International, with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development in six Moroccan middle schools in 2013 as part of the Improving Training for Quality Advancement in National Education project. At the conclusion of the program, all participating out-of-school youth had returned to the classroom.

The rollout of the Youth Speak Morocco Toolkit follows successful outcomes in a usability test of the toolkit with youth leaders and their coaches in three pilot schools in the Rabat-Salé region, representing urban, peri-urban and rural zones.