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In each of the four camps are primary schools for children up to the age of eleven. For secondary education the Saharawi have constructed two purpose-built boarding schools outside the camps.

The June 9th boarding school is so named as a tribute to El Uali Mustafa, a revolutionary hero, who died on June 9th 1976 whilst fighting. It was El Uali who declared the Saharawi Democratic Arab Republic.

school There are two boarding schools for secondary education. This is a drawing of June 9th school which was opened in 1978, three years after the refugees fled to the southwest Algerian desert. (Image©Hazan Mormen)

The June 9th school houses more than 2,500 boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 14. They study Spanish, maths, drawing, science, history and geography as well as playing football, volleyball and basketball in their free time.

Like the Saharawi camps the students are very involved in the running of their school, organising committees on information, culture and sport as well as making music and information programmes for the school radio station "Radio Escuela Saharawi" (Sahara School Radio).

For the most part school life is similar wherever you are, with classes and exams part of everyday life, but it is the environment in which children go to school that often differs. Two children from the June 9th school describe what a typical day is like for them in the Algerian desert.

In School A classroom of children in one of the schools, class sizes can reach up to fifty.
Each school is named after a memorable date in the struggle of the Saharawi people.

(Image©Western Sahara Campaign)

A school day in the life of ...

"Each day I wake up in the early morning, wash my hands and face, then I prepare myself to go to school. At eight I am in class. There are 42 of us.

At 10.30am it is breaktime. I join my class mates and play for a quarter of an hour. After that we go back to class until 12 o'clock, by then it's lunchtime. We have lunch in a big dining room with all of the pupils of the "9th June" school. After playing we rest in our dormitories, as it is often very hot. Lessons start again at 4pm and go on until 6pm.

On Friday, which is a holiday for us, I usually go on a picnic in the desert with my friends. We bring with us a little food, water and the materials for making tea. We divide ourselves into groups - one for collecting wood to make the fire, others to make the tea and so on. I like very much to go for a walk outside school. On Friday night, when we return, we have time to wash our clothes and to get ready for a new school day."

"We get up at 7am in the morning and start our classes at 8am. At midday we listen to Radio Escuela Saharawi for a bit before lunch. We play football after we have eaten and have a siesta until 4pm. Our classes start again at 4pm and go on until 6pm. At 7.30pm we have dinner. We then go to the sections where we sleep and sometimes take part in social activities, or study by ourselves. We go to sleep at 10pm."