High (& increasing?) illiteracy in Arab world
- 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
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
By HANNAH ALLAM
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
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
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
"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