Innovative Literacy and Post-literacy Project: Means of Socio-economic Empowerment and Integration for Women in Morocco
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||Innovative literacy and post-literacy project: means of socio-economic empowerment and integration for women in Morocco|
|Implementing Organization||Department for the Prevention of Illiteracy (Ministry of National Education, Higher Education, Staff Training and Scientific Research)|
|Language of Instruction||Arabic|
|Programme Partners||Moroccan government, UNESCO, Moroccan associations, and NGOs|
|Date of Inception||2006|
Context and background
Despite the progress that has been made, the illiteracy rate in Morocco remains alarming. It is estimated at 32% of the population aged 10 and over according to the Moroccan Ministry of Education. In 2006, a national illiteracy survey in Morocco put the rate at 38.5%, with a rate of 46.8% for women, 31.4% for men, 27.2% in urban areas and 54.4% in rural areas. Illiteracy thus affects rural areas and women most of all.
To address this problem, the Moroccan government has made the fight against illiteracy one of its top priorities. This commitment has yielded notable results. Since 2002, the number of beneficiaries of literacy programmes has risen every year. It increased from 286,000 in 2002/03 to 656,000 in 2008/09. The total number of beneficiaries over the last six years (2003 to 2009) was almost 4 million. This is double the number of beneficiaries over the previous 20 years (from 1982 to 2002).
It is now acknowledged that the low literacy rates witnessed in Morocco, and among women in particular, are a major barrier to the process of national socio-economic development. In 2007 the Department for the Prevention of Illiteracy (DPI) launched a new initiative that aims to promote innovative activities within the literacy and post-literacy sector through experiments and pilot projects implemented in partnership with local actors, especially associations and NGOs. The specific objective of this initiative is to diversify literacy and post-literacy programmes in terms of intervention approach, teaching methods, educational aids, sustainability of learning outcomes and the integration of literacy into the process of sustainable development, the prevention of poverty, and the socio-economic integration of beneficiaries. The involved associations and NGOs developed innovative projects to better cater to the needs expressed by the target population.
As part of the National Literacy Strategy, whose activities focus particularly on women, the DPI implemented a pilot programme with UNESCO support through the LIFE initiative and financial support from the UNESCO Capacity Development for Education for All programme (Cap-EFA Morocco 2006-2008). The aim of this programme was to create a model that would make it possible to forge a link between literacy and the socio-economic integration of neo-literate women by way of a post-literacy training programme to consolidate the literacy skills acquired and prepare them to run micro-projects.
The programme covered the region of Souss Massa Daa, one of Morocco’s 16 regions. It concerned two of the country’s 82 provinces, namely Zagora and Ouarzazate.
The activities comprised by this programme had the following objectives:
- the adoption of innovative approaches focused on the testing of new adult education methods;
- the use of participatory approaches to the creation and implementation of literacy projects based on the expressed needs of beneficiaries rather than on operator’s scope of services;
- the implementation of effective post-literacy projects tied in with local development;
- the development of new teaching materials adapted to the target populations;
- the coordination of literacy with poverty reduction and the socio-economic integration of beneficiaries (especially women) by way of support for the creation of income-generating activities;
- the development of new approaches to the training of groups with special needs, such as disabled people and nomads;
- reinforcement of basic skills, namely reading, writing and arithmetic, acquired during the literacy phases through the implementation of programmes with themes as diverse as health, law, credit and banking, democratic institutions, the social economy and home economics, and citizenship;
- the setting-up of community education centres as tools for community mobilisation to aid the creation of a favourable environment for lifelong learning;
- capacity-building of local actors (civil society) to promote and support community development activities intended to improve women’s socio-economic status.
This programme was implemented from 2007 to 2009 by the DPI in partnership with various local actors. Community organisations played an important role in running the training activities and initiating the income-generating activities. Other forms of community participation were developed to ensure ownership of the implementation process by community members. Community management mechanisms were therefore initiated.
Two studies were conducted as a prelude to implementation of the programme:
Survey on the reference situation in Ouarzazate and Zagora: the goal of this study was to highlight the education and socio-economic situation of the target women at the beginning of the project. Two analysis methods were adopted: quantitative (survey of a representative sample) and qualitative (focus group involving the women and civil-society associations).
Economic opportunities for women in Ouarzazate and Zagora: this study made it possible to determine the strengths and weaknesses of previous experiences in the domain of income-generating activities and led to a number of proposals that served as a basis for the selection of projects alongside the beneficiaries.
Training of facilitators
The training provided for facilitators focused on adult education, teaching techniques in post-literacy programmes, community mobilisation and community centre management.
Training modules for local NGOs
These were intended to build the capacities of male and female members of local development associations and coordinators of community education centres in the areas of post-literacy, community development project management, income-generating activities and the promotion of gender equality.
Training of beneficiaries
The preparation and running of the training sessions for the beneficiaries was a key stage of the project. Literacy reinforcement sessions and sessions on the themes of the post-literacy phase were held four times a week, with each session lasting two hours. This comprised a total of 8 hours per week over a period of 9 months in one year. The average learner group size was 25.
The initial sessions focused on exercises intended to refresh and reinforce the reading, writing and arithmetic skills acquired during the initial literacy training. The aim was to maintain the women’s neo-literate status, and these sessions served as a transitional phase leading to the post-literacy training sessions.
The post-literacy phase comprised pre-vocational training sessions relating to the professions desired by the participants and according to the economic opportunities available in each region (agriculture, livestock-rearing, bee-keeping, tapestry-making, etc.). Following this phase, those beneficiaries who wished to do so and were selected to pursue income-generating activities, as well as their helpers, received in-depth technical training and personalised support throughout the project.
Local support for beneficiaries
Community capacity-building and ongoing support for the women led to the creation of community education centres (CECs). These centres, which were created and are run by the communities themselves, are involved in the transfer of skills and empowerment of communities as part of local capacity-building efforts and support the creation and development of economic opportunities for vulnerable groups.
Monitoring and evaluation
A participatory process led to the development and implementation of a programme monitoring and evaluation system. This culminated in the establishment of a piloting committee responsible for monitoring and evaluating the programme activities. This committee was empowered to make any relevant proposals relating to the smooth running of the programme. The development of the monitoring and evaluation framework led to the selection of monitoring and performance indicators to enable an objective assessment of how the programme’s various stages were implemented.
A mechanism for evaluation of the training sessions was put in place. Initially, evaluation activities took place at the end of the sessions to gauge how well the skills had been acquired and to facilitate the interventions necessary to rectify the failings. This task was performed by the facilitators as part of their training duties. The participants then engaged in self-assessment activities within their groups with regard to the learning activities, with support and guidance from the facilitators.
The other practical stage of the monitoring and evaluation process involved field visits to the areas of intervention of the programme. These field visits enabled the various actors to assess the level of development of the activities, identify weaknesses and discuss ways of remedying them. With a view to documenting the activities, periodic reports were drawn up by the partner organisations for the members of the piloting committee.
Between 2007 and 2009 this programme made it possible to reinforce the literacy and vocational skills of more than 11,700 beneficiaries, more than 95% of whom were women. The training for facilitators and beneficiaries covered themes that linked learner needs with the opportunities available in the catchment areas through the creation of income-generating activities. Participatory studies were carried out on the key activities, and this led to the implementation of income-generating activities that helped the beneficiaries to find work. Within this framework, 30 income-generating activity projects were initiated for 300 women in the domains of livestock-rearing, the use of natural resources, and agriculture.
Capacity-building for local organisations with the involvement and training of local associations Association staff were involved in the whole of the consultation process relating to the programme, which included the selection of female beneficiaries, the identification and recruitment of facilitators, the development of training modules, the creation of community education centres (CECs), and assistance with the reference study and the study concerning opportunities for income-generating activities.
Boosting community participation through the creation of community education centres (CECs) Four CECs were set up for this purpose and provided with equipment. These centres are run by the communities themselves. Centre managers were selected and trained. Piloting committees were established to guarantee greater community autonomy and involvement in the running of the CECs.
Notable achievements were observed in terms of documentation and capitalisation. Post-literacy textbooks and subject-specific booklets were developed. Various other capitalisation aids were produced at different levels, including a study intended to build on good practices by the DPI.
A number of challenges were encountered during implementation of the programme:
- Difficulties relating to beneficiary availability due to the harvest season, which frequently interrupted the activities and caused problems when they were resumed. Other interruptions due to agricultural work hampered the implementation of some programme activities.
- High facilitator turnover at some locations due to various reasons. Facilitators had to be replaced several times at certain locations, hence the difficulties witnessed in terms of the regularity and continuity of the training activities.
- Difficulties in the assimilation by some facilitators of the innovative methodology adopted.
- The insufficient number of CECs set up.
- The manifestly inadequate number of women who were able to take up IGA training (10% on average), which encouraged the creation of group projects.
- Difficulties in terms of outlets for the sale of the products resulting from the income-generating activities.
- Difficulties in the raising of additional funds by associations to make the programme sustainable.
Community education centres (CECs) were created for the first time in Morocco. These CECs offer lifelong learning opportunities to all members of the community, and to women in particular. They are usually set up and run by members of the community, and can be involved in all stages of activity implementation. CECs are accommodated by associations or networks of associations. Each centre has its own activity programmes based on community needs, with consideration given to the special circumstances of women, the disabled and nomads.
In addition to the classic vertical approach in terms of participation and the creation of projects that address immediate practical needs (literacy/post-literacy and income-generating activities), this programme also features a cross-cutting approach intended to ensure that the main local actors are involved and to instil into daily development practices an awareness, followed by acceptance, of the strategic importance of women, a group often marginalised in decision-making and local development.
A wide range of training aids was produced: vocational training textbooks on dairy cattle rearing, bee-keeping and a textbook about health and citizenship, audiovisual pieces on sustainable development, and folk tales intended for use in the post-literacy phase.
The main findings arising from the implementation of this project are as follows:
- Stimulation/creation of a local-level impetus for literacy, involving associations, organisers, beneficiaries and the public;
- Women are highly motivated by the new methodology, especially the case study that enables them to have a say in the choice of topic, talk about their concerns and thus become liberated and express themselves;
- A change in the behaviour of some women, who sent their out-of-school daughters back to school; others provided their children with educational support;
- Greater openness towards public institutions;
- Beneficiaries become convinced of the importance of post-literacy training; non-beneficiaries are encouraged to become literate;
- Beneficiaries become more confident.
- Insufficient number of CECs to meet the needs of the entire population in the areas concerned;
- Low level of male involvement in the programme.
To contribute to the viability and sustainability of these activities, provision has been made for a CEC reinforcement and support programme that has already been formulated as part of other cooperation projects scheduled to run between 2009 and 2011. The support to be given to these CECs will come from the budget allocated as part of the provincial plans devised in both of the programme’s locations and also the current capacity of civil society to manage innovative projects in this field.
Between 2009 and 2010, the programme will be expanded to cover other regions of Morocco: support for neo-literate women in the Taza-El Hoceima-Taounate, Oriental and Tangier-Tetouan regions through post-literacy training will enable them to develop their skills and knowledge, and to pursue income-generating activities. In addition, CECs will be set up in the Taza-El Hoceima-Taounate, Oriental and Tangier-Tetouan regions as new vehicles for socio-economic integration.
The DPI has already selected 9 associations to run similar projects (post-literacy combined with socio-economic integration programmes aimed at women) that will be launched in the next few months.
El Habib NADIR
Director for the Prevention of Illiteracy
31, Angle Avenue El Abtal et Rue Oued Fes Agdal
Email: User: nadir
Host: (at) alpha.gov.ma, User: nadirhabib25
Host: (at) yahoo.fr
Last update: 30 June 2011