Zaki is particularly interested in helping teachers reach beyond content knowledge to address wider questions.
As in the U.S., it is a challenge to find time to go beyond standard curriculum topics, but Zaki feels it is essential.
"We are human beings and citizens, too. To be happy, our own needs and the needs of society must be met."
"Access" schools were created to address civic education, gender and diversity issues, as well as democratic principles.
Zaki is continually asked by teachers and community members, "What does this have to do with teaching English?"
He stated, "We brought these values in, to integrate and sensitize our teachers through events, small and large, throughout the country. We are adopting and adhering to a vision of being part of forces that try to improve the quality of life for young people."
He mentioned a gender equity conference he helped organize that generated a great amount of criticism. Zaki said, "Many people asked me, "Why are you doing this?" By trespassing on traditional ideas about the purpose of education, Zaki has made enemies yet firmly believes that he has a responsibility to assist the wider community through his work.
His goal is to equalize educational opportunity. Challenges include scarce resources, a small budget and lack of translators, to name just a few...
The English Access Microscholarship Program was initiated in 2003 after the suicide bombings in Casablanca, as a way to counteract extremist viewpoints and activity.
At the program's onset, 17 boys were recruited. A million dollar grant allowed the enhancement of activities and expansion of the program. Students must come from underprivileged homes in rural areas, and must demonstrate that they have the motivation to succeed.
The format of the English classes is non-traditional in its approach. Students learn English through activities. There is no set curriculum, and teachers are given wide freedom in what they cover, which may range from American culture, to ICT (IT), to public speaking.
Whereas the Moroccan system is normally very teacher-centered (inherited French system), the Access program is student centered.
One way in which to assess success is through the measuring of absences and tardies. For students enrolled in the Access program, "Absence and tardiness are not an issue," according to Zaki.
Since the Access program is not exam based, teachers are free to be creative in their methods. As Zaki states, "The mission of the teacher is not to cover the book, but to uncover the book."
In a country where text books are still state-controlled and limited in scope, this certainly seems the best assurance of teaching students how to think for themselves. As Zaki puts it, "Students have the space to reflect and express what they've learned. Access doesn't just improve their language skills, it also improves their lives."
Beyond that, the program has helped eradicate radicalism by providing a deeper understanding of what being an American means, and what American life is about.
Currently, the program serves 1600-1700 students per year in Morocco. 85 other countries are implementing similar programs.