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High (& increasing?) illiteracy in Arab world

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  • Don Osborn
    I came across an article mentioning high illiteracy rates in the Arab world - higher than I realized - but a quick news search yielded three more disturbing
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 7, 2008
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      I came across an article mentioning high illiteracy rates in the Arab
      world - higher than I realized - but a quick news search yielded three
      more disturbing items about apparent trends of increasing illiteracy
      in three parts of it: Yemen, Algeria, and among Iraqi refugees. The
      latter are perhaps a special case (meaning that the causes and
      conditions of refugee life have multiple challenges including in
      education). Not sure how Algeria handles multilingual literacy - there
      being large Berberophone populations. Nor how any of the countries
      handles differences between colloquial spoken Arabic and written
      standard Arabic, whether in terms of content or approaches to literacy.


      Nearly one in three in Arab world illiterate: report
      3 hours ago

      TUNIS (AFP) - Nearly one in three people in the Arab world is
      illiterate, including nearly half of all women in the region, the
      Tunis-based Arab League Educational Cultural and Scientific
      Organisation said Monday.

      Three-quarters of the 100 million people unable to read or write in
      the 21 Arab countries are aged between 15 and 45 years old, the Arab
      League group, known by its acronym ALECSO, said in a statement.

      Equally alarming, some 46.5 percent of women in the region are
      illiterate, the organisation reported, urging governments to put the
      fight against illiteracy at the top of their agendas.

      While describing access to primary school education as
      "indispensable," it also urged Arab countries to focus on adult
      education to avoid "serious incidents in the evolution of (Arab)

      ALECSO has previously sounded the alarm on illiteracy in the region,
      noting it had failed to meet a 1990 United Nations goal to halve adult
      illiteracy over the subsequent decade.

      In July, Arab states adopted an action plan spearheaded by the group
      to promote education, notably through collaboration with key
      international organisations.

      While illiteracy affects the entire Arab world, the more highly
      populated countries -- such as Egypt, Sudan, Algeria and Morocco --
      are particularly vulnerable.


      Illiterate rate expected to increase, says official
      [07 January 2008]

      SANA'A, Jan. 07 (Saba) - Head of the Illiteracy Eradication System
      Ahmed Abdullah al-Autheli said the illiterate rate is expected to
      increase over the next five years from 5,545,000 to more than 7 million.

      In a statement to Saba, al-Autheli said that the challenges the system
      faces are lack of teachers and funds.

      al-Autheli noted that the number of persons who attend classes of
      illiteracy eradication across the country is about 128,465 students
      while the number of persons who have been learning in the classes of
      skills is about 8,531.

      He confirmed that the system had made efforts to increase the number
      of people who studying in the classes of illiteracy eradication.




      Algeria: 6.4 million illiterate people recorded in 2007.
      on Monday, December 31 @ 06:28:36 CST

      According to recent figures issued by the National Statistics Office,
      the number of illiterate people in Algeria in 2007 has reached 6.4
      million, the highest figure ever recorded since the country's
      accession to independence in 1962.

      In order to cope with this deleterious phenomenon, the Algerian state
      has earmarked 45 million dinars as part of a national literacy
      strategy due to be enforced until 2016.

      This staggering illiteracy figure constitutes about 20% of the
      country's total population which is estimated at 33.8 million
      inhabitants, according to 2007 statistics.

      In a statement to Echorouk newspaper, an official in charge of the
      literacy file said that a total of 3 million 200 thousand illiterate
      people in Algeria would be taken in charge by various ministerial
      departments and associations in the framework of the state's sustained
      endeavour to stamp out illiteracy in the country by the year 2015.

      by: B. Houam. // Translated by: Med. B.


      Illiteracy rampant among Iraqi refugee children
      McClatchy Newspapers

      DAMASCUS, Syria | Illiteracy is spreading rapidly among refugee
      children from Iraq, with at least 300,000 young Iraqis not attending
      school in the countries where their families have sought safety.

      Aid workers in Syria and Jordan report that a growing number of
      children can't read or write because cash-strapped parents have
      withdrawn them from school to cut down on expenses. In many cases,
      displaced families can afford to send only one of their children to
      school, creating a painful gap between educated children and their
      illiterate siblings, humanitarian workers say.

      UNICEF, the U.N. education agency, is starting a census to determine
      the size of the problem. There is no program yet to deal broadly with
      the issue.

      Aid workers admit that the development surprised them, in part,
      because Iraq once boasted some of the highest literacy rates in the
      Middle East. The Iraqis' legendary thirst for knowledge is
      encapsulated in an Arabic saying, "The Egyptians write, the Lebanese
      publish, the Iraqis read."

      "We are finding that a lot of participants in the youth programs we're
      running - a very high number, sometimes up to 30 percent per class -
      are illiterate or close to illiterate," said Jason Erb, deputy country
      director for emergency programs in the Jordan office of Save the Children.

      He said that more than 90,000 Iraqi children were out of school in Jordan.

      Iraqi educators in Damascus have begun offering free remedial lessons
      so Iraqi children make up for years lost to war, but they are finding
      far more students than they can accommodate. In Syria, about 250,000
      Iraqi children, about 76 percent of the school-age Iraqi population
      there, are out of class this year, according to the U.N. refugee agency.

      "The last time my kids were in school was 2003, right before the
      American invasion," said Hanaa Majeed, 32, an Iraqi refugee in
      Damascus who can't afford to send her two sons to school. "They can
      barely read. I buy books and try to teach them at home, but it's not
      the same. My boys see other kids with backpacks on, going off to
      school, and they ask why they can't go, too."

      Education is a point of pride for Iraqis, the descendants of
      civilizations that invented cuneiform, one of the world's first
      writing systems.

      Even refugee children enrolled in school struggle to keep up with
      unfamiliar Arabic dialects, aid workers said. Being uprooted from
      their homes in Iraq also diminishes their ability to learn. Most Iraqi
      children also have witnessed or experienced horrific violence, aid
      workers said.

      "A whole generation is missing out on its education," said Sybella
      Wilkes, the Damascus-based U.N. spokeswoman on refugee issues.
      "Nothing has prepared Iraqis for being refugees, for running out of
      savings. For the first time in a generation or longer, the priority is
      basic survival."

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