Functional Literacy Programme of Women of the Argan Cooperative through Amazigh (Berber) Language DVDs
Country Profile: Morocco
|Poverty (Population living on less than US$ 1.25 per day)|
|Total Expenditure on Education as % of GNP|
|Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 2005-2010)|
Total : 79%
|Programme Title||Functional Literacy Programme of Women of the Argan Cooperative through Amazigh (Berber) Language DVDs (Projet d'alphabétisation fonctionnelle des femmes coopératives d'argane moyennant un DVD en langue amazigh)|
|Implementing Organization||Association Ibn Albaytar (national NGO)|
|Language of Instruction||Arabic, Berber (Amazigh)|
|Funding||International NGOs and foreign donors|
|Programme Partners||National Centre of Development and Literacy (Centre National de Développement et d'Alphabétisation – CNDA), Nutrition Act and the international cooperation of Monaco|
|Annual Programme Costs||€60 000 (US$80 000 – first year including DVD production costs), €25 000 (US$34 000 – second year)|
Cost per Learner: €104 (US$140)
|Date of Inception||December 2008|
Country Context and Background
Morocco is an emerging country ranking 130 out of 187 in the 2013 Human Development Report (UNDP, 2013). Agriculture makes up 15% of the GDP (World Bank, 2013) with 40% of the active labour force employed in its activity in 2010 (UNDP, 2011).
The Argan oil trade is unique to the country, its activity mainly being carried out by women in rural areas. While the oil is used in cooking, it is also renowned in the cosmetics industry and known for its medicinal virtues. Situated in central and southern Morocco, it serves as a buffer against desertification from the Sahara desert in the south. Due to the threat of excessive human exploitation, the Argan tree became not only the focus for conservation, but also for socio-economic development and research. In 1998, through the UNESCO Man and Biosphere programme (MAB), the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve was designated, its core area comprising the Souss-Masaa National Park. A secondary aim of this programme besides environmental protection, is also to promote and demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature.
With a population of over 32 million, literacy rates in Morocco stand at an average of 56%, representing over 10 million people lacking basic literacy skills. With literacy programmes frequently being carried out in urban areas, opportunities for women in poor rural areas to acquire these skills are relatively few and far between.
The association Ibn Al Baytar (AIB) was created in 1999 and is registered as a national NGO in Morocco. It has 30 members and an Administration Council made up of 9 people. The main aim of the association is to bring together social and economic progress with the preservation of the environment. Its programmes focus on the autonomy of women in rural areas, encouraging the protection of the environment and medicinal plants. Literacy classes are coordinated with income-generating activities and provided for women working in one of the Argan women's cooperatives.
The association was among the first to set up cooperatives in the Argan sector in Morocco, starting with starting with Amal cooperative in 1996 employing 16 divorced or widowed women. Many of these women had never acquired literacy skills and so from 2003 the association also started to include literacy training as part of their programmes. This came to benefit over 3000 women in the Argan trade. A diagnostic study in 2006 brought to light that the need to consolidate literacy skills was being overlooked, also the fact that many of the women spoke Berber, some of whom could only speak very little Arabic. This led to the implementation in December 2008 of a new literacy programme designed to address these needs in Amazigh, a Berber language spoken by the women participating in it.
The programme is implemented in five provinces of the region Souss Massa Draa in central Morocco. Each year 240 women and girls from rural areas participate in the programme with a total of over 480 rural women benefiting from it since its inception. The programme's focus on rural women sets it out from other organizations whose main field of action is in urban areas. It is also the first literacy programme in Morocco to produce and use audio-visual material in the Amazigh language.
Aims and Objectives
The literacy programme for groups of women in the Argan cooperative aims at:
- Making the cooperative’s women aware of the importance of environmental protection and preservation
- Making the cooperative’s women aware of the importance of the Argan Biosphere and what is at stake in the preservation of the Argan forest
- Making the cooperative’s women aware of the primary importance of cooperative and solidarity organisation
- Endowing the cooperative’s women with knowledge of legislation and cooperative management
- Endowing the cooperative’s women with skills in the areas of quality norms/standards and traceability procedures in Argan oil production
- Increasing women’s awareness of the obstacles/constraints in Argan sales and the value of promoting fair trade
- Endowing the cooperative women’s knowledge of new family laws, especially those concerning the status of divorced women and the basic principles of family management.
The simplification of audio-visual pedagogical tools in the Amazigh language for the women of the Argan cooperative looks at:
- Increasing women’s awareness of the importance of the cooperative as an economic structure for solidarity
- Initiating women into cooperative legislation
- Accompanying cooperative women in the implementation of good cooperative governance
- Mobilizing women to adhere to efforts made to establish, respect, and improve quality standards and to implement a traceability system within the cooperatives
- Reinforcing the cooperatives on an institutional level
- Increasing women’s awareness of the Argan Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and the importance of fair trade.
Teaching – Learning Approaches and Methodologies
Classes are held during six months of each year with an average of 25 learners per group.
At the beginning of each session a review is made of the previous session, helping participants to consolidate what they have already learned and retain the key elements. It is also used to evaluate what they know and what they have acquired.
Participative methods are principally used, ensuring full involvement of each learner. Brainstorming is one such technique, used to create a debate between the cooperative women based on their knowledge and conceptions and also to ascertain to what level they master the subject under question. Women are able to freely share their own opinions and points of view. The brainstorming is followed by the use of audio-visual material on the same theme. As this material is in the mother-tongue of the participants they are able to follow it closely and also understand it. The content projected during the showing is then used to rectify, where necessary, some of the women's ideas or viewpoints expressed during the preliminary discussion while continuing to promote free expression.
Group work is then used to consolidate and put into action what has been discussed and covered. It is also a means for the facilitator to discern the level to which each participant has mastered the subject under discussion.
Programme content (curriculum)
The association Ibn Al Baytar (AIB) has been working in the field of adult literacy since 2003 for the benefit of the Argan oil cooperations. This experience has greatly contributed to the curriculum in place for this programme. The principal manual used helps learners to acquire and maintain literacy skills combined with improving their management skills in the Argan trade. A key difference between this programme and former ones is the language of instruction, classes being held and manuals being used are no longer in Arabic but in Amazigh, the main language spoken by participants.
Principal themes covered in the curriculum include the:
- Protection of the environment
- Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve
- Cooperative: definition and membership (part 1)
- Cooperative: principals, rights and obligations (part 2)
- General Assembly of the Cooperative
- Accountancy for the Cooperative
- Traditional and mechanical oil extraction methods
- Quality and traceability
- Marketing and PGI (Protected Geographical Indications) of Argan oil
- Family law
Audio-visual material is a key feature of the programme. An expert in pedagogy was recruited to specifically design and plan the contents of these materials and sessions. The artistic development and final production of the material was entrusted to and carried out by a company specialising in artistic productions. A total of 12 pedagogical films were created to be used in the programme.
Recruitment and Training of Facilitators
All facilitators follow a programme to be trained as facilitators. They are given a pedagogical kit comprising of a facilitators guide in Arabic and a DVD in Amazigh. They follow a technical outline for each session. Facilitators are paid DH2800 per month (US$340) and oversee two groups of 50-60 learners. They all have experience in the field of adult literacy and undergo three specific training sessions: literacy teaching, cooperative legislation and health and legal education. Extended training also includes andragogy, facilitation and communication techniques, evaluation methods, use of audio-visual supports, among other things.
Enrolment of Learners
The main target groups are women and girls. Women working in the women's cooperatives who wish to follow the programme offered by the association Ibn Al Baytar can be enrolled. Each year 240 participants benefit from the programme.
Assessment of learning outcomes
During sessions, the facilitator uses different exercises to assess the participants' acquisition and assimilation of the subjects covered. At the end of each module participants are given a test to evaluate their knowledge and what they have acquired. These tests include different formats such as true or false questions, multiple choice, connecting information and carrying out tasks.
Following the evaluation, the facilitator runs reinforcement sessions, helping participants to extend and refine their newly acquired skills and knowledge. These evaluations also serve to fine-tune the curriculum and methodologies as recurrent deficits in the programme may be brought to light, they can also be addressed, adjusted and rectified as appropriate.
At the end of each year, all participants take an examination as part of a final evaluation. They receive a final grade, but no certificates are issued.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Pedagogical supervisors visit the different training units once a month to insure the pedagogical follow-up, aid the facilitators and help solve any problems which have come up during literacy classes. During each visit, the supervisor will check the pedagogical documentation including technical documents, participants lists, timetables, attendance rosters, monthly reports and agendas. The supervisor then submits a report to the association Ibn Al Baytar at the end of each visit.
Further evaluations are made by external consultants or doctoral students studying impact at this level.
Programme Impact and Challenges
Impact and achievements
Three thousand woman have participated in the literacy programme in Arabic since its inception in 2003.
In 2009 and 2010, over 480 women benefited from the literacy programme with the DVD in the Amazigh language and attendance rates have increased since its outset. Success rates for the programme in Amazigh are at 84% compared to previous rates of below 50% for the programme in Arabic.
Various benefits have also been recorded relating to improved quality and traceability in Argan oil production and more transparency in the cooperations. Women are demonstrating greater initiative in contacting or consulting administration in the cooperative sector. They have also become more aware of the need to protect the environment and the Argan trade.
As the programme is being implemented in key areas of the Souss Massa Drâa region, notably the provinces of Agadir Idaoutanane, Chtouka Ait Baha, Taroudant and Tiznit, more and more requests are being received to extend the programme further. It is now being used as a model in other women's cooperatives in other sectors besides Argan.
One learners' manual has been produced and a second is under way. In addition there is an instructor's manual on literacy with a second focusing on skills training for instructors.
Challenges and lessons learned
The implementation and day-to-day running of the programme has met with its own set of challenges. The buildings housing the literacy centres are in a precarious state, lacking adequate tables and chairs, missing windows and with roofs in disrepair. Participants do not have the necessary equipment, such as televisions and DVD players, to enable them to view audio-visual material at home. Many participants have expressed a need for the courses to be longer than six months, finding this length too short to fully assimilate the whole programme.
The programme has also learned from and overcame various challenges. The social climate and different political events, such as the electoral campaign, have had an impact on the programme, most often disturbing the regularity of classes. One year, the annual harvest had been good and harvesting started as early as April in certain zones. As a result, many women were pushed to stop their classes to help their families with the harvest and associated activities. To counteract this, timetables were modified and arrangements were made for participants to be able to catch up with what they had missed.
Some cooperatives invest heavily in this programme while others, lacking their own means, are constrained to wait for financial aid from other NGOs or foreign donors.
The long term sustainability of the programme depends on a continued demand for literacy training by groups of women and women's' cooperatives as well as the continued investment of financial partners. There are now 180 cooperatives for Argan, which represent 4500 women, each a potential beneficiary of the programme. The demand for literacy training is great, but needs the financial backing to be able to keep up with it.
In 2008 the Minister of Agriculture in Morocco launched the Projet Vert (Green Plan) to promote income-generating activities in other sectors and for other products than Argan and in 2010 it started to be implemented in the field. The experience and expertise gained in the Argan sector could be adapted and later used for these new activities. Requested are already being received to use the programme in cooperatives in other sectors.
- UNDP (2013) Human Development Report 2013
- UENSCO (2013) Man and Biosphere programme
- UNESCO – MAB Biosphere Reserves Directory – Morocco Argeneraie
- Worldbank (2012) Data
Madame Zoubida Charrouf
President of the Association Ibn Albaytar
22 rue Sebou,
Fax: 2125 37 71 32 79
Host: (at) yahoo.fr
Last update: 3 December 2013