A Meaningful Issue Worth Taking On

By Fatimzahra El Mourabit

I’m in the M²GATE program, on the Alters team. I’m a 23 year old studying human resource management at the University of Cadi Ayyad in Marrakech, Morocco. I’m in my fifth and final year and can’t wait to start working in the field I like the most.

As soon as I heard about the M²GATE program, I didn’t hesitate for a second to apply. At first, I had so many issues I wanted to reveal. I could prepare a long list, as the situation in our region is still lacking many pillars, and we are still far from comfortable with our lifestyle. However, I took some time to reflect on the main reasons people here get blocked at some point in their life, not knowing how to manage and be productive, but starting to blame their family, society and the whole ecosystem. Unconsciously, I found myself following the “5 Whys Problem-Solving Method”.

I realized that several actors bear a share of the responsibility. However, I concluded that, ultimately, we all are victims of a damaged educational system that generates passive citizens, most dangerously, young ones. Education here is the key problem, the solution, and the counter-measure all at once. I am incredibly concerned about young people, specifically children, as we all know how sensitive, most able to learn and absorb everything, whether it is positive or not, and how in need for guidance and nurturing they are.

In a context like ours, people who succeed the most — both socially and professionally — tend to go beyond what is offered in terms of education. They work more on themselves, seeking new ways of learning and challenging themselves despite circumstances. In other words, they acquire soft skills. Some lucky people get them the easy way, while so many others get them through hard-won life experiences … sometimes even very late.

But, what about children and young people? It is a pity to see that soft skills development, a major pillar in education, is still missing from our classrooms. Business people tell me that they need people with soft skills. They tell me it is a problem easy to solve through training. Ironically, these people usually tend to require soft skills as a ‘distinctive competency’ in job and internship candidates.

I still keep in mind a sentence from the leadership development part of this program:

You begin with working on yourself, having as much awareness of self and others as you can. You can change yourself and sometimes change your environment/context, but can rarely change another.

Again, I started questioning ‘Why’? Why can’t some action-takers actually make a change despite working hard and despite being aware that things are going wrong? The reason behind failure to make an impact is not touching the right problem and sometimes not being able to do so. It is true that positive social actions are necessary no matter how small they are, but we need to target the biggest drivers of our problem. With that being done, we will notice that many other related issues will be solved.

This is exactly how I see the issue of soft skills. In fact, they are a must, starting at a very early age. They should be integrated into our educational system. They will teach young people how to construct their path in life while equipping them with the tools to do so. Soft skills prepare people to challenge difficulties in life, reveal the talented person within, make them believe that they can do beyond what they were taught classically at school.

I’m excited to work on this issue with my team. We all agreed that, by touching the youngest of our children, by being the example and by seeking good influencers from our young community, we will be able to make the right change. As our mentor, Mr. Soufiane Khabbaz told us, we need to identify a global issue in which we are considered ‘insiders.’ We are part of this society. We know what we lack and what we missed while we were learning.

Thanks to my humble life experiences, I’m ready to work on this project and keep on raising awareness among concerned targets, because there are plenty of talented children and young people who are not even aware of how amazing they are. So many young people with talents that go to waste when no one discovers them and teaches them who they really are and what they could become.

I have learned that I need to get out of my comfort zone even more often. I need to learn how to communicate and negotiate, how to help others, how to be flexible, how to manage my emotions, my anger and my stress, how to set goals and stick to them. I want to be able to think and live outside the box, and whenever life puts me down, I want to learn how to get up again. This is a sneak peek of what soft skills look like. This is what they do not teach us in schools … until now.




M2GATE partner logos (from left to right) USAID, U.S. Department of State, the Stevens Initiative and The Aspen Institute

The Stevens Initiative is also supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

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