The British Ambassador to Morocco

  • Photo by Thomas Reilly

The British Ambassador to Morocco (Thomas Reilly), Mr. Michael McHugo and Mr. Montassir Itri were very excited and optimistic for the Sussex visit.

Mr. Reilly tweeted on February 22, 2019,

“My family are calling the #Sussex’ #RoyalVisitMorocco ‘The BIG Weekend’. Apart from the fact that Monday is not a weekend, this Visit is as big as it gets. And tomorrow is the Start!”

Mr. Reilly told Hello!

“It is hugely exciting to have The Duke and Duchess of Sussex here for the next few days, and I am delighted to have this opportunity to showcase the vital roles that girls’ education and youth empowerment are playing in shaping modern Morocco.

“When we began planning for this visit, I had a very clear view in my mind of the story we wanted this visit to tell.

“It is the same story that we have been telling consistently at this embassy about Morocco since my arrival here 20 months ago, and in a fortunate stroke of serendipity, we have found that this story fits with interests close to their hearts.” (Hello! Feb. 2019)

“This visit will help give international publicity to the work we do and will help us raise money to build more boarding houses,” Michael McHugo, founder of Education for All, told Reuters by phone. (Reuters, Feb. 2019)

Montassir Itri told Reuters

“The visit will add new momentum to tourism in the region.” (Reuters, Feb. 2019)

Education For All (EFA)

“Educate a girl and you educate the next generation”

“EFA was established” in 2007 “to help provide the opportunity of a secondary education for girls from the High Atlas mountain region…” because “…despite the Moroccan Government’s support of education policy and women’s rights, half of the country is not literate, and in rural areas, up to 83% of women are illiterate.” (EFA website)

In Morocco “most secondary schools are located in larger towns several kilometers away and parents struggle to afford lodging for their children. While boys are generally allowed by families to make the long journeys to and fro nearby colleges, girls must stay at home unless their parents can afford lodging near the schools. The existing housing facilities are very often inadequate, presenting further reasons for families to lose confidence in sending their daughters to live away from home. Many girls find themselves in uninspiring work or married at a very young age. These new found adult responsibilities often prevent them from furthering their education or securing a career path.” – (Journey Beyond Travel website)

“[EFA] believe investing in girls’ education is essential, as an educated girl educates her family and whole community. [EFA] build and run” five “high-quality boarding houses…” which accommodate almost 200 “girls” whose age ranges “from 12–18” years old. “Everything is provided for free. [The students are provided with] 3 nutritious meals a day, hot showers, cosy beds, access to computers, study support via an international volunteer programme and dedicated, local housemothers. The overall environment makes it easy for the girls to settle in and thrive in their studies. [EFA] see an average of 90% pass rate across all years and now have 50 EFA girls enrolled at university!” – (EFA website)

Michael McHugo
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has appointed Mr. Michael (Mike) McHugo a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to improving gender equality in Morocco. The Duke of Sussex will invest Mr. Michael (Mike) McHugo in Asni.

“I fell in love with [Morocco] in 1972 when I’d craved adventure and driven there in a second hand Beetle. I set up a company called Hobo Travel, filled a couple of Land Rovers with UK travellers by advertising in Private Eye magazine, and drove them around Morocco on a regular basis.” (Michael McHugo)

Mr. McHugo is the co-founder of the Education For All (EFA) Morocco. He helps to fund EFA and other educational initiatives by donating 5% of the turnover from his luxury eco-lodge Kasbah du Toubkal located in Imlil to the charity. Mr. McHugo also organizes the annual cycling event called Marrakech Atlas Etape Cyclosportive; whose profits are used to support EFA expenditure. (Trip Advisor website)

Mr. McHugo explained in A Different Life: The Work of Education for All how EFA was established:

“We’d all lived in Morocco for a number of years and ate out together regularly. Most of us worked in tourism so we came up with the idea that we would go to a restaurant and get them to provide us with a meal at cost and we would promote them. We then charged ourselves the full rate and paid the balance into a fund, which we would use to support something, although at the time we weren’t sure what.” Over a couple of years the account grew, but it was through a chance meeting with John Woods, who had created the charity Room To Read to build libraries in parts of the world where children might never get the chance to see the written word, that saw them focus on education. “Originally we thought that we might just act as fund-raisers for Room To Read, but then we decided we’d like to do something specific to Morocco. It was quite obvious that girls didn’t have the same educational opportunity as boys, and in addition to that, some of the villages in the High Atlas Mountains are very remote and aren’t accessible by road. Children had to walk for hours to even get to the road-head before they might be able to hitch a ride to school.”( A Different Life: The Work of Education for All)


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