Sep 9, 2016

The 8th of September- International Literacy Day

The United Nations (UN) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), designated September 8th of each year to celebrate and remind people around the world to eliminate illiteracy.

Many countries worldwide have succeeded in doing so, while other countries have a long way to go.

Unfortunately, the Arab world, which consists of twenty-two states, still has high illiteracy rates.  More than 100 million people in the Arab world out of 400 million are classified as illiterate. However, the illiteracy rates among Arab states fluctuate. States with smaller population size in general tend to have high literacy rates such as Tunisia, the Emirates, Lebanon, and Jordan. Most of the states with large population size such as Egypt, Sudan, Morocco and Yemen, have a high illiteracy rates.

For example, Egypt, where one fourth of the Arab population resides, has one of the highest illiteracy rates. Egypt population now exceeds 94 million people, and more than one third are classified as illiterate.

Egypt has more than 47,000 schools, but many are unfit as places of learning. Furthermore, many of these schools run on a two-shift basis daily to accommodate children of school age. Keep in mind that Egypt adds 2.6 million newly born babies to its population per year.

Recently, the minister of education stated publically that the government needs to create more than 40,000 new classrooms to cut the number of students per classroom by half. In some of the classes, the enrollment exceeds 175 students.

Regrettable to say, education in the Arab world is not classified as priority one task. The political leadership has failed to come up with a strategy to eliminate illiteracy. For that and other reasons, many countries around the globe are progressing, while the Arab world is regressing.