Report: Almost one-third of Moroccans are illiterate

Friday 02/10/2015
Moroccan women learn how to read, write and calculate during a lesson in the village of Timoulilt, in Azilal Province of the Tadla-Azilal region of Morocco, on January 27, 2014.

Casablanca - Almost one-third of the Moroccan population is illiterate, according to a statement from the National Agency for the Fight against Illiteracy (ANLCA) on the eve of International Literacy Day.

“We must not forget that 10 mil­lion Moroccan men and women are still suffering from this blight,” said the statement, which was released September 7th.

“This alarming figure requires intensified efforts from Morocco in order to achieve the goal of eradi­cating illiteracy in 2024.”

Mounia Benchekroun, a Moroc­can consultant in social and educa­tional development, said the figure is very scary for the country of 33 million.

“The figure of 10 million illiterate in Morocco should raise a national awareness that would require a much stronger national political engagement in order to fight this scourge,” she said.

The literacy rate increased sig­nificantly between 2004 and 2012, which earned Morocco the UN­ESCO Confucius Literacy Prize honourable mention. But ANLCA called for additional efforts to erad­icate illiteracy by 2024 in the king­dom.

The National Education and Training Charter (CNEF) was una­ble to meet its objective of reducing illiteracy to less than 20% by 2010 and totally eradicating it by 2015 even though the number of ben­eficiaries of literacy programmes tripled from 286,000 in 2002-03 to nearly 763,000 people in 2012-13, according to CNEF.

“It will take Morocco at least 15 years to wipe out illiteracy in Mo­rocco if the number of beneficiar­ies remains the same as in 2012-13 without taking into account po­tential school [dropouts] who fail to learn anything and children excluded from education,” said Benchekroun.

The government announced in January 2012 that it would acceler­ate efforts to fight illiteracy through targeting 1 million beneficiaries a year and bring the illiteracy rate to 20% by 2016.

ANLCA called on all national and international actors to mobilise their efforts “for a new impetus to­wards a literate Morocco” through the optimisation of human and financial resources, synergy and perseverance of efforts and the in­volvement of all parties concerned.

ANLCA noted that the literacy rate among the Moroccan popula­tion aged 10 and over was 72% and 62% of the population aged 15 and over was said to have sufficient al­phabetic skills, according to a 2012 study.

According to a study by the Higher Planning Commission in Morocco, more than half of Moroc­can women aged 15 and over are il­literate despite programmes imple­mented in recent years.

Morocco earlier announced a series of emergency measures to rebuild the educational sector, which Education Minister Rachid Belmokhtar described in December 2014 as “underdeveloped”.

ANLCA set out a partnership strategy with different bodies, in­cluding non-governmental organi­sations (NGOs) to be as close as possible to rural and remote areas where illiteracy is taking its toll.

More than half (52.2%) of literacy programmes have been provided by NGOs, highlighting the role of the civil society in education.

“The volunteering sector is a very important actor as it has a bet­ter operational flexibility than pub­lic institutions,” Benchekroun said.

One of the most active NGOs in Morocco is the Zakoura Founda­tion, which has among its goals the education of children. Since its inception in 1997, Zakoura Foun­dation has created more than 400 schools in rural areas, helping more than 130,000 people benefit from its educational programmes.

Benchekroun said that Zakoura Foundation “plays a huge role in teaching people to write and read”.