Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Morocco Keeps Up The Fight Against Illiteracy

About 10 million Moroccans still suffer from illiteracy,according to the National Fight Against Illiteracy Agency ( ANLCA). It is time, they say, to devote more resources to make illiteracy a thing of the past

"We must not forget that 10 million Moroccans still suffer from this scourge"

From 2014 to 2024 has been designated as the Arab Decade of Literacy.

"This alarming figure of 10 million requires not only increased efforts and acceleration of change, literacy must become everyone's business so that Morocco can achieve the goal of eradicating illiteracy by the year 2024,"says a spokesperson for the ANLCA in a statement on the occasion of the International Day of Literacy (8 September). This year's event was celebrated in Morocco under the theme "literacy for all, literacy is the business of everyone."

Morocco received an honourable mention in the UNESCO Confucius prize in 2012 for achievements in the fight against illiteracy, and the many programmes deployed in the field, "But we must not forget that 10 million Moroccans and Moroccan women still suffer from this scourge." says the ANLCA.

Data from the High Commission for Planning, including the national survey conducted in 2012, found that the illiteracy rate among the population aged 10 years and older was 28%, while 38% of the population aged 15 and over have insufficient alphabetic skills.

The ANLCA is urging all national and international actors to mobilise and pool their efforts "for a new impetus, through the multiplication and optimisation of human and financial resources, synergy of efforts and perseverance and the involvement and commitment of all."

“No entertainment is so inexpensive as reading nor any pleasure so lasting.”

The sad fact that reading is not seen as normal in many Moroccan families has also been commented upon. Writing recently for Morocco World News, Mohamed Lakdali observed that, "...the prevalence of illiteracy contributes by more than 40% to maintaining the status quo of low levels of reading in Morocco. What is more, those that are literate, such as pupils and students, are content with only studying their courses. This implies a lack of interest towards general reading. A great percentage of students from junior secondary school level to higher institutions have no interest in reading at all. They have concluded that reading is a hard job rather than a pleasurable one. The reason for this conclusion is thought to be a result of not taking reading as a daily routine since their early stages. If they had, they would have discovered that, “No entertainment is so inexpensive as reading nor any pleasure so lasting.”

The Medina Children's Library - making literacy fun

Morocco World News interviewed several individuals to comment on the reasons behind the low rate of reading in Moroccan society. Khalid, a BA student from Taounate said, “the educational system does not encourage reading books; the high rate of illiteracy in Morocco is one of the main reasons. Social conditions like poverty, crime, and unemployment distract literate people’s attention from reading.”

Asmae, an MA student from Tétouan stated, “Moroccans don’t read because they are not used to do so. In developed countries we find that parents read for their kids before going to sleep. People exchange books as gifts; some even write books about their lives. In these countries you find people reading on the bus, train, tramway etc… They are time-conscious. Maybe Moroccans don’t read because they are not time-conscious.”

Mustapha Ben Moussa, a BA student from Fez said, “We don’t read because the majority of children don’t see their parents read, don’t receive encouragement for reading either at school nor home.” Chaimaa, a student from Mohammadia said, “The low rate of reading in Moroccan society is due to the attractiveness of the internet…individuals prefer using the internet rather than reading a book.”

On a small scale, local initiatives have been applauded. The success of ventures like the Medina Children's Library in Fez are seen by locals as creating a love of books, storytelling and by example making literacy more attractive.

Hamid, a local business man, says that the Medina Children's Library is responsible for his children's increased interest in reading and his wife's decision to learn to read and write. He says, "The library is so small, who would have thought it could have such an impact?"

The Medina Children's Library of Fez is at 41 Zkak Rouah, off the Ta'laa Sghira - close to Riad Laaroussa, and at the top of the street from Resto 7.

Info: www.facebook.com/medinachildrenslibrary or medinachildrenslibrary.org
Phone: 06 60 12 44 40 or 06 77 31 39 04

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