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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke January 6, 2022

No, this isn’t a photo of former French education minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem

If Your Time is short

  • This photo was taken of an 8-year-old girl in Morocco in 2006, when Najat Vallaud-Belkacem was about 30.

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, who served as the minister of national education, higher education, and research in France for several years, was born in Morocco. 

But an image that’s being shared on social media does not show Vallaud-Belkacem, France’s first female education minister. 

"20 years ago she was herding sheep in Morocco," text that tops two side-by-side photos, "now she is France’s education minister."

One of the photos shows Vallaud-Belkacem leaving a cabinet meeting in October 2014, the year she started serving as minister. The second image shows a child leaning against a staff while sheep graze in the background. 

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This claim has been online for years, and drew the attention of the French newspaper Le Monde in 2016. The photo of the child was taken by photographer Giacomo Pirozzi in 2006 in Morocco and subsequently published in a UNICEF report, Le Monde said. It shows an 8-year-old girl named Fouzia. 

Vallaud-Belkacem, who was born in 1977, would have been about 30 years old that year.

She has previously discussed a childhood that included not sheep, but goats.

"Reports in the French press that I was a child shepherd hold a grain of truth: I was born in Morocco and lived in Bni Chiker, a mountain hamlet in the north," she said in a 2017 story in the magazine Porter. "My early childhood was spent as a country girl living with near and extended family, all under one roof. We were quite poor. I helped my grandfather with the goats, drew water from a well, and spent most of the day in flip-flops. I don’t have many specific memories, but I carry with me the feeling of a happy family life."

She goes on to say that she moved to France to join her father in 1982, well before the photo of the girl in Morocco was taken. 

We rate claims that this photo shows a young Vallaud-Belkacem False. 


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No, this isn’t a photo of former French education minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem

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