Information and stories about Literacy Information.

literacy in bangladeshThe term “literacy” means far more today than in the past, incorporating not only the ability to read physical texts, but to also be able to comprehend and break down internet sources and articles as well. Bangladesh has been striving to make the country’s educational system develop these skills through the implementation of newer programs and the infusion of technology into schools. The government’s goal of creating an accomplished, educated population through digital education has helped to increase literacy in Bangladesh.

Education Overview

Bangladesh’s school system is broken down into four categories: pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary. The country currently has five years of compulsory education from age six to age ten. The country has been working to decrease the number of out of school children throughout the past ten years, with only 753 children not in school as of 2017. The number of out of school adolescents has also decreased, dropping from 2,776 children in 2010 to 995 children in 2017.

Impact of Digital Education

With these decreases in out-of-school children, Bangladesh has been working to increase the literacy levels throughout the country. Digital education is making access to reading materials and textbooks easier throughout all regions, which helps to improve literacy in Bangladesh. Using digital materials to increase the level of education in schools is helping children to understand the tools available through the internet and infuse a larger amount of knowledge into the current school systems in place. Many schools have adopted the use of technology to aid education throughout the country, incorporating digital white boards, tablet devices and learning apps to infuse more learning materials into classrooms.

JAAGO Foundation

One group working to improve literacy rates in Bangladesh is the JAAGO Foundation, which has helped through the creation of a digital school. This school helps to teach information and communications technology (ICT) to students, which was accredited by UNESCO in 2017 as an innovative, new method for ICT education. The school is set up into parts: a headquarters for teachers located in Dhaka, and classrooms in remote areas with video-streaming technology to broadcast lessons from the headquarters. JAAGO’s school also includes interactive calls between the students and the teachers in Dhaka so that these students have opportunities to ask questions and get individual learning time.

JAAGO has also partnered with Bangladesh’s government through the A2i project, which provides an e-learning platform for students looking for an online education. This platform, named Muktopaath, features both videos and educational lessons to supplement traditional education forms and help to increase the literacy rates throughout the country.

Literacy Rates on the Rise

Because of institutions like the digital school from the JAAGO Foundation, literacy in Bangladesh is currently at an all-time high, with 72.76 percent of the population being literate in 2016. This number has increased by 26.1 percent from 2007, where literacy rates were measured at 46.66 percent. The literacy rate for people between 15 to 24 has also increased drastically, from 61.87 percent in 2007 to 92.24 percent in 2016. These figures show how Bangladesh is working to break out of the Least Developed Country (LDC) designation and improve overall quality of education throughout the regions.

Bangladesh’s government has also been increasing funding to local schools to benefit the quality of literacy and education throughout the country. Government spending toward education was over $4.3 billion in 2016, which is more than double what the government spent in 2008. The National Education Policy of 2010 helped to make education accessible for everyone, and over 26,000 primary schools have been accredited by the government as national schools to ensure that a primary school is in every region of the country.

Literacy in Bangladesh has been steadily increasing by infusing technology into local schools. Through increasing government funding for schools and with the help of outside programs like the JAAGO Foundation, educational systems throughout the country are beginning to rise to meet international education standards. As more technology is added into school systems, Bangladesh will continue to improve in international standings and surpass LDC status within the next few years.

– Kristen Bastin
Photo: Flickr

eight facts about education in tanzaniaComprised of what once were two separate states, Zanzibar and Tanganyika, Tanzania now sits in East Africa between Kenya and Mozambique after gaining independence from Britain in 1964. With a population of over 55 million people, Tanzania is the biggest and most populous East African nation. The following 8 facts about education in the United Republic of Tanzania will highlight problems students face in the pursuit of education. They will also map out efforts being made to ensure that students are able to access education.

8 Facts about Education in the United Republic of Tanzania

  1. Throughout the 1970s, a focus was placed on education. Universal primary schooling consisting of seven years was instated. Unfortunately, the demand for secondary school outweighs the budget allotment, and as a result, many parents have been forced to help sponsor said education.
  2. While there is little to no disparity between boys and girls enrolling in the mandatory primary schooling, just one-third of girls who enroll in secondary education will complete it. This may be a contribution to why 83.2 percent of males age 15 and over being able to read and write as opposed to the 73.1 percent of females at the same age level. Contributing factors to girls’ having restrictions on their educations include premature marriages, gender-based violence and financial hardships.
  3. Due to low literacy rates, the Tanzanian government has put a focus on adult education in addition to childhood education. Because of the success of these programs, adult literacy rates have improved drastically. While Tanzania’s literacy rates are still below the world average, in terms of African nations, it ranks above average.
  4. Another hindrance to children’s education in Tanzania is the lack of qualified teachers available to teach. UNICEF reports that for every 131 students, there is one qualified teacher. This leaves many students without access to the education they deserve.
  5. In addition to not having a sufficient number of teachers staffed in schools, many teachers are left without proper tools to teach adequately. Sixty-six percent of teachers say that they are not equipped with proper teaching supplies. Not providing teachers with the necessary tools to teach is a massive contributor to lower literacy rates.
  6. USAID is working to provide various services designed to increase student retention rates. The organization is working closely to address the restrictions that young girls face in order to let them continue their education. USAID is working in partnerships with the National Plan of Action to End Violence against Women and Children.
  7. With USAID’s involvement, an estimated 19,000 young girls will benefit and have increased support for their continued education. It is predicted that nearly 1.5 million students as a whole will see improvements in their reading, writing and math schooling by 2021. Increasing the quality of school materials will lead to massive change throughout the country.
  8. Another organization passionate about affording education to those in need in Tanzania is UNICEF. By 2021, UNICEF, along with the President’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government (PORALG), hopes to increase the availability of safe and inclusive access to basic education. With this plan, the hope is to provide even the most vulnerable young people in Tanzania with proper primary education.

While Tanzania, like many other countries, has room for improvement, these 8 facts about education in the United Republic of Tanzania show that there are strong efforts being made. With effective plans of action in place for the next few years, the future of education in Tanzania looks brighter.

– Emi Cormier
Photo: Flickr

Global Illiteracy
The ability to read and write is one of the few skills with the power to completely change a person’s life. Literacy is vital to education and employment, as well as being incredibly beneficial in everyday life. Global illiteracy is extensive. As of 2018, 750 million people were illiterate, two-thirds of whom were women. 

In 2015, the United Nations set 17 goals for sustainable development, one of which included the aim to “ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy” by 2030. Though this is an admirable goal, current progress suggests that global illiteracy will remain a substantial problem in 2030 and beyond, due to challenges such as poverty and a lack of trained teachers in some areas. While eliminating global illiteracy by the 2030 deadline seems out of reach, companies and organizations around the world are taking steps toward improving literacy rates, often with the help of technological innovations.

  3 Organizations Fighting Global Illiteracy

  1. The Partnership-Afghanistan and Canada (PAC), World Vision and the University of British Columbia have collaborated to create a phone-based program aimed at improving literacy rates among rural women in Afghanistan. Women in remote areas who lack local educational resources learn from daily pre-recorded cell phone calls, which teach them how to read and write in Dari, a Persian dialect widely spoken in Afghanistan.  The lessons require only paper, a writing utensil and cell phone service, which are widely available throughout the country.

  2. The World Literacy Foundation operates many literacy-boosting programs, one of which is its SunBooks project. The project provides solar-powered devices through which students can access digital content and e-books while offline. The SunBooks initiative, intended to boost literacy rates in sub-Saharan Africa, helps young people overcome barriers to literacy such as limited access to books, a lack of electricity and limited internet access. Only 35 percent of schools in sub-Saharan Africa have access to electricity, so traditional e-books are not a viable solution to a lack of books. SunBooks’ content is available in local languages and in English.

  3. A collaboration between Pearson Education’s Project Literacy Campaign, the World Bank and All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development has resulted in a project called EVOKE: Leaders for Literacy. EVOKE is a series of lessons on problem-solving, leadership and the importance of literacy, styled as a video game in which the student plays a superhero. EVOKE aims to empower young people to be literacy advocates in their own communities, and more than 100,000 people have participated in the program.  The project has shown promise in getting young people excited about reading and writing.

People generally understand literacy as a necessary part of education and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights established it a human right in 1948. Yet still, hundreds of thousands of people cannot read or write. Literacy rates are improving, but not quickly enough to meet U.N. targets. These organizations are making valuable contributions toward fighting global illiteracy so that every person can be empowered.

– Meredith Charney
Photo: Pixabay

8 Facts About Education in Uruguay
Uruguay is a country of around 3.4 million on the east coast of South America. Uruguay’s government has invested highly in its public education system, as evidenced by its high literacy rate of 98.6 percent for the population, progressive policies for equitable education and free college. This article highlights 8 facts about the current picture of education in Uruguay in addition to education policy.

8 Facts About Education in Uruguay

  1. Primary, secondary and public university education are free of cost. The affordability of public education is largely responsible for Uruguay’s high literacy rate of 98.6 percent, roughly comparable to that of the United States.
  2. Unlike the Organisation for Economic Cooperation (OECD) countries, an autonomous administration creates and implements Uruguay’s education policies rather than a ministry of the executive branch. This means that Uruguay has a highly centralized education system with the National Public Education Administration (ANEP) overseeing all public schools from preschool through university. The Ministry of Education and Culture regulates only private preschools and private universities; the ANEP creates all public education policy.  However, ANEP does not clearly define the role of the central authority as opposed to the many sectorial education councils, and therefore, there is a lot of internal competition that results in bureaucratic inefficiency.
  3. Education is compulsory from ages six to 11, and thus, the Uruguayan people have universally achieved primary education. All children in Uruguay receive a free primary school education and the majority of children also receive a non-compulsory preschool education at ages four and five.
  4. Less than one-third of Uruguayans complete secondary school and this rate is increasing more slowly than in other Latin American countries. In 2017, only 56 percent of adults over 25 had a middle school education in Uruguay, and only 30 percent had graduated from secondary school.
  5. The average Uruguayan will spend 16 years in school, but they will also repeat grades. Both Uruguayan and American students will spend an average of 16 years in school, but Uruguay’s grade repetition rate is high compared to other Latin American and international countries. Grade repetition is why students in Uruguay will spend so long in school, but still, only half will finish middle school.
  6. Students from low socioeconomic backgrounds complete school at much lower rates, but the government has responded by placing a heavy emphasis on social equity in education policy. Uruguay has increased funding and resources for low-income primary and secondary schools, as well as introduced targeted programs for at-risk students to encourage them to stay in school.
  7. Uruguay has invested heavily in its education system, but emigration has prevented the country from reaping the rewards of this investment. Some of the most successful students choose to leave Uruguay for better career prospects in the United States or Spain. Currently, around 18 percent of Uruguayans live abroad.
  8. Uruguay’s student-teacher ratio is one of the lowest in the world. With a classroom student-teacher ratio of 13.8 to one, Uruguay approaches the small classroom sizes of countries like Sweden and Iceland. Small class sizes often contribute to greater student success as they allow for every student to have more one-on-one attention from the teacher.

Uruguay’s education system is far from perfect, but the government has worked hard to promote education, make it accessible to all and empower those with fewer resources to gain an education as well. Overall, the country still has work to do, but its education system has achieved a lot of success and every year more people graduate with high school and college degrees than the last.

– Macklyn Hutchison
Photo: Flickr

Top Facts about Education in AfghanistanWhen the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, the percentage of Afghan children attending school was extremely low. Now, the educational landscape of Afghanistan is vastly different. More children, especially girls, are enrolled in school. More importantly, they are staying in school. These top 10 facts about education in Afghanistan provide a glimpse of what education looks like in the country now.

Top 10 Facts About Education in Afghanistan

  1. As of 2019, over 9 million Afghan children are in school.
    Around 300,000 students are attending colleges and universities. Additionally, 480,000 new teachers were placed in Afghan schools. Their training was funded by the U.S. Agency for International for Development initiatives.
    https://www.usaid.gov/afghanistan/education
  2. It is rare for Afghan children to drop out of school once they are enrolled.
    Approximately 85 percent of children who start primary school also finish primary school. Plus, nearly 94 percent of boys and 90 percent of girls who start secondary school also finish secondary school.
  3. Literacy rates are high in urban areas.
    Although literacy rates in rural Afghanistan remain relatively low, this is not the case in urban areas. Literacy rates for women living in urban areas are as high as 34.7 percent. However, literacy rates for men living in urban areas are as high as 68 percent.
  4. SEA is improving education.
    Strengthening Education in Afghanistan, a USAID initiative, aims to improve the quality and accessibility of education in Afghanistan. Thanks to SEA, over 4,500 teachers received training in 2018. In the same year, 710 women received scholarships. This allowed them to work toward receiving bachelor’s degrees. SEA scholarships also allowed 150 women to work toward receiving master’s degrees at universities in India.
  5. U.S. interference has improved education.
    In 2007, six years after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, 60 percent of Afghan children attended school in temporary settings like tents instead of in school buildings. About 80 percent of teachers were deemed unqualified. The education of 5 million children was restored but 50 percent of children were still not in school. In the past 12 years, improvements have been made on all of these fronts.
  6. There are currently over 3 million children out of school in Afghanistan.
    Out of these 3 million, 60 percent are female. Nearly 17 percent of Afghan girls get married before they turn 15, meaning that they leave school sooner than their male peers.
  7. The number of Afghan children in school is higher now than in 2001.
    While more Afghan children are in school now than in 2001, there have not been significant increases in enrollment numbers since 2011. There are also some parts of Afghanistan that have seen decreased enrollment numbers during the past four years.
  8. In some Afghan provinces, female enrollment rates are as low as 14 percent.
    Only 33 percent of Afghan teachers are female. The number of female teachers varies widely from one region to the next. In some provinces, 74 percent of teachers are female. In others, only 1.8 percent of teachers are female.
  9. Around 50 percent of Afghans age 15 to 24 are illiterate.
    Afghan government spending grew three times higher from 2010 to 2015. However, spending on education was not increased proportionally. Over 50 percent of university students are from high-income areas.
  10. Girls have almost half as many years of schooling than boys.
    As of 2014, boys spend 13 years in school on average. Girls spend an average of eight years in school. Moreover, only 38.2 percent of the adult population is literate. As of 2017, Afghanistan was ranked 79th globally in terms of youth unemployment, with 17.6 percent of its population aged 15-24 unemployed.

These top 10 facts about education in Afghanistan show that though there is still room for improvement, the efforts made in the past 18 years have led to positive results. Needless to say, education is vital. The people of Afghanistan cannot overcome poverty and move toward peace without schools. Fortunately, the Afghan government and multiple organizations, including USAID, have made a great deal of progress. International support, including support for USAID from U.S. voters, can further maintain the progress of education in Afghanistan.

– Emelie Fippin
Photo: Flickr

Urban and Rural Poverty in EgyptWhile the North African nation of Egypt has experienced substantial economic growth in recent years, it still grapples with the issue of poverty. With an overall poverty rate of approximately 28 percent, Egypt still struggles with more than a quarter of its population living in poverty. However, like many other developing countries, there is a poverty divide in Egypt between rural and urban people that is highly problematic for the nation. Specifically, reports completed by the World Bank indicate that the highest share of the nation’s poor population lives in upper rural Egypt. The inequality and poverty divide in Egypt between wealthier urban families and poorer rural families are issues that the North African nation must look to correct if its goal is a more stable and evenly-distributed domestic economy.

Urban vs. Rural Poverty in Egypt

There are some explanations for the poverty divide in Egypt. Like many other countries, those living in rural communities tend to rely more heavily on industries such as agriculture and livestock as a means for sustenance. Agriculture accounts for approximately 27 percent of the total Egyptian workforce and 55 percent of employment opportunities in rural upper Egypt are related to agriculture. This means that as Egypt continues to modernize its economy in its urban centers, those in more rural, agriculturally-focused regions such as upper Egypt and the Nile River valley will inherently be forced to find more reliable and modern sources of employment in urban centers. Agriculture constitutes too small a percentage of Egypt’s economy (11.7 percent of the total GDP as of 2017) for the government to significantly invest in such an industry and, as a continuously urbanizing nation, it seems as though this trend will continue. There are simply more opportunities for employment and financial prosperity in bustling urban centers like Cairo than in secluded rural villages throughout poorer regions.

However, several factors may be quietly contributing to the poverty divide in Egypt, one of which involves the illiteracy rate. As of 2017, of Egyptians aged 15 years and older, about 28 percent of that population is still illiterate. Many of these illiterate people live in rural areas where education is much less accessible. In fact, a 2017 report by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) found that the rural illiteracy rate in Egypt stands at about 32 percent, while the urban illiteracy rate is approximately 17.7 percent.

Hannah Adkins, a university student who visits family in Egypt, commented on the issue of illiteracy in Egypt. “Illiteracy is definitely higher in rural areas because they simply have more limited access to schools and teachers,” Adkins told The Borgen Project. “Urban areas have a large concentration of wealth so that people with more privilege can afford to send their kids to private or international schools.”

According to statistics reported by the Education Policy and Data Center, 25.5 percent of rural Egyptian children do not receive secondary education, compared to 14.5 percent of Egyptian children in urban areas. The lack of wealth distribution between rural and urban areas has led to a steep poverty divide in Egypt. As a result, many Egyptians find themselves stuck in a cyclical process of poverty and illiteracy with little opportunity to emerge.

Though the poverty divide in Egypt has been accentuated by many factors like illiteracy, there are still groups and organizations focused on resolving such issues. In fact, Egyptian agencies like CAPMAS have set goals to eradicate the poverty rate by half by 2020 and fully by 2030. CAPMAS plans to do so by implementing different programs aimed at benefiting poorer families, especially in rural areas and villages throughout Egypt. In fact, a 2015 program called Takaful and Karama (Solidarity and Dignity in English) in an effort to provide poor families and elderly Egyptians with income support, education and healthcare assistance. This program was launched with the support of a $400 million World Bank program. Egypt’s government has made it clear that eradicating its crippling poverty divide is a top priority, and as long as the nation can keep up with its plans in the coming years, impoverished Egyptians will hopefully be able to dig themselves out of their desperate situations.

– Ethan Marcetti
Photo: Flickr

Girls Education in IndiaIn 2017, India was ranked 130 in human development out of the world’s countries, putting the country on the medium level in regards to human development. This placement is due to imminent barriers that prevent girls from equal access to India’s academic opportunities. By contributing more to girls’ education, India’s ranking would improve as it would help to alleviate some poverty. This article presents the top 10 facts about girls’ education in India.

Top 10 Facts About Girls Education in India

  1. The caste system, dating back to 1200 BCE, is a form of discrimination that had been officially outlawed in 1955; however, its influence thrives in India’s modern-day education system. On the top of the system is a group called the Brahmins, and at the very bottom are Dalits (“untouchables”). This method has kept many Dalit girls secluded from promising scholastic endeavors. These children are often from their peers segregated during lunchtime and ridiculed by them in class. This rhetoric causes 51 percent of Dalit children to drop out of elementary school. Another law passed in 1989 was supposed to protect the Dalit caste, but it is not being sufficiently enforced.
  2. Gender inequality has deterred education for girls in India for a long time. In 2017, 32 percent of girls were not enrolled in school in comparison to 28 percent of boys. A male’s education in India is more valued, therefore; it is often seen as unnecessary to financially support a girl’s education due to these binding gender roles.
  3. In impoverished villages where schools are inaccessible and not encouraged, gender roles lead to a third of girls in India marrying off their educational futures. As high as 47 percent of the girls in India are subject to marriage by 18 years of age. This leads to early pregnancies, which makes it impossible to attend school as they must shoulder the stigma and the additional workload. Some regions also don’t permit pregnant girls to attend school, which puts education even further from their grasp.
  4. In 2009, the Right to Education Act (RTE), mandated that it is the right of every child to obtain a minimum amount of education. The program was supposed to make it compulsory for children ages 6 to 14 to access educational opportunities as more provisions were enacted. This was a step in the right direction, but more must be done to actively close the gender gap and retrain society to value girls’ education.
  5. The Right to Education Act in India seems to have improved the country’s ranking when looking at the growth in literacy rates. In 2001, literacy rates were 64.8 percent; however, this had increased to 74.04 percent by 2011. As of 2001, around 54 percent of girls were literate; however, after the RTE, the percentage had increased to more than 65 by 2011.
  6. Every year, 23 million girls in India drop out of school after they begin menstruating due to lack of sanitary napkin dispensers and overall hygiene awareness in schools. Lack of reproductive education leaves 71 percent of girls unaware of what takes place in their bodies during menstruation. Many girls even believe that was is happening is “unclean” and shameful. Even with awareness, lack of sanitary pads in rural areas force girls to use cloths that sometimes cause infections; only two to three women use sanitary pads.
  7. At least 47 percent of schools lack toilets, forcing girls to rid their bodily waste onto the streets, which is morally degrading to them. This is another reason they drop out of school, to avoid this shame. RTE included adding toilets to schools to solve this problem, but it wasn’t enough. Therefore, the Department of School Education and Literacy under Ministry of HRD implemented a program named, Swachh Vidyalaya, which would add $4,582.91 worth of toilets to schools.
  8. In Bihar, where the literacy rate for girls is 20 points lower than for their male counterparts, the trek to school is far. For someone in the Rampur Singhara village, the trek is 4 miles, and the bus fare is too expensive to send the child to school. However, the state government has given free bikes to families to encourage a higher literacy rate in poorer regions like Bihar. The bicycle program instantly showed success as the number of girls registering for schools went from 175,000 to 600,000 in the span of four years.
  9. India is expanding its horizons with technology to combat illiteracy, and it seems that women are benefiting the most. Computer-Based Functional Literacy (CBFL) teaches the basics of reading. This program targets individuals ages 20 to 50, which branches out India’s education system in terms of age for both sexes. Women comprised 81 percent of those who signed up for this efficient program. Girls who are at home due to poverty, gender roles or a host of other reasons are able to engage in education, thereby increasing the literacy rate.
  10. The poverty rate in India has declined from roughly 54 percent in 1983 to 21.2 percent in 2011 ever since educational improvements began taking place. Knowing this, it can be found that if India provided more resources for girls’ education, its GDP would increase. By simply increasing girls’ enrollment in secondary school by 1 percent, the  GDP in India would increase by $5.5 billion.

India aims to grow from a medium developed country to one of higher rank. Considering its recent strides in education, it is possible for India to attain this goal. However, this can only be done by realizing there is still more work to be done in closing the gap between boys and girls as these top 10 facts about girls’ education in India show.

Gowri Abhinanda

Photo: Flickr

living conditions in morocco
Morocco is a country rich in history and tradition with a unique culture that comes from Arab, Berber, French and African influences. While the country faces several economic, political and social challenges, it has also been experiencing continued growth in GDP, indicating the progress in its development. Evidence of the country’s domestic progress can be seen through its efforts in increasing school enrollment and literacy rates and reducing poverty. It has also displayed its progress internationally by taking the lead on environmental progress in the region. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Morocco.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Morocco

  1. Morocco’s government has implemented programs focused on job creation and the reduction of economic disparities that have been effective enough to improve the overall economy. Morocco represents the sixth largest economy in Africa. Its GDP growth rate increased from 2.40 percent in July 2018 to 3 percent by October 2018. Although in previous years, the GDP had been higher, this increase represents a new upswing in growth.
  2. There was slight progress in reducing unemployment in 2018, with a small drop from 10.6 percent to 10 percent by September that year. The High Commission for Planning estimates that 122,00 jobs were created within the last year. In addition, youth unemployment rates dropped from 27.5 percent to 26 percent.
  3. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) concluded in an index evaluation that Morocco is the worst country in North Africa in terms of income inequality. The income share held by the highest 20 percent amounted to 47 percent in 2013 while the lowest 20 percent held a total of 6.70 percent. Distribution of income in Morocco is a challenge that still needs to be addressed.
  4. Although income inequality persists, the poverty rate in Morocco had decreased from 8.9% in 2007 to 4.2% in 2014. The World Bank reported an increase of 3.3 percent in consumption per capita between 2001 to 2014. However, progress is more apparent in urban areas rather than rural.
  5. In order to improve and diversify its economy, the government has been focusing on becoming more innovative. In 2010, research efforts accounted for 0.73 percent of its GDP, making Morroco one of the highest in the Arab world in that focus. In 2009, the country adopted the Moroccan Innovation Strategy by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Investment and the Digital Economy with the aim of developing domestic demand for innovation and improving innovative funding.
  6. Due to severe understaffing, the World Health Organization (WHO) had listed Morocco as one of the 57 countries that could not provide essential healthcare to its citizens in 2010. The government has since taken measures to improve this. It announced the allotment $10 billion to go towards healthcare and education as part of its $46.5 billion 2019 Finance Bill.
  7. In 2001, Morocco had implemented a program to do away with all the slums. The “City Without Slums Initiative” was set to be accomplished by 2011, but was set back considerably after terrorist attacks in 2003. Its purpose was to improve housing, sanitation and quality of life. It is currently only 68 percent complete. Of the original 85 cities that were scheduled to be updated, 58 have been completed.
  8. In partnership with USAID, Morocco has adopted measures to improve its educational system in 2017. Fewer than 15 percent of students who start in first grade are predicted to graduate from high school. The newly implemented program focuses on teacher training, after-school reading programs as well as distributing important learning materials. The program has already trained more than 340 teachers and improved literacy for 12,000 students.
  9. Literacy rates had improved substantially from 41.6 percent in 1994 to 71.7 percent in 2015. However, the adult literacy gender gap in Morocco is still a challenge that the government is facing. In 2015, the male literacy rate reached 78.6 percent; whereas, the female literacy rate was only 58.8 percent. However, these rates improve significantly when looking at the youth between the ages of 15-24. The gender gap is still present in youth, but much narrower, with roughly 88 percent for women and 95 percent for men.
  10. Similarly to the social challenges the whole region faces, Morocco is a patriarchal society. Gender inequality is embedded in the social, political, legal and economic structures of the country. However, the government has taken constitutional measures to increase gender equality. In 2004, it amended the Mudawanna legal code, guaranteeing legal rights for women in areas like property ownership, divorce and child support. Women currently make up one-third of the formal workforce and almost half of the students graduating from university.

Looking to the Future

These 10 facts about living conditions in Morocco illustrate the government’s efforts to not only achieve economic growth but develop overall. The U.N. Development Program indicated that the Human Development Index for Morocco had increased from 0.458 in 1990 to 0.667 2017. The Moroccan government’s 2019 agenda for development is focused on education and a huge investment in its citizens for the purpose of economic transformation.

Njoud Mashouka

Photo: Flickr

Reasons to Increase Literacy Rates
When living in the U.S, it is easy to forget that being able to read and write is not something allowed to every person in the world. However, when it was discovered that approximately 32 million Americans could not read at a basic level, society deemed this as a crisis.

Comparatively, though, the crisis of illiteracy is much scarier in developing countries. The CIA World Factbook defines literacy as being able to read and write when older than the age of 15. Countries like South Sudan, Niger, Afghanistan and Ethiopia have literacy rates below 40 percent of their total population. These countries also happen to be the most poverty-stricken countries. This connection leads to the importance of listing five reasons to increase literacy rates.

Five Reasons to Increase Literacy Rates

  1. By being able to read and write, citizens can further develop their education. It is a given that if citizens want a great education, they will have to increase literacy rates. To do this, countries need to prioritize primary education so that the children that are already in school can get a good base. In a report from UNICEF on world education and literacy, it is stated that the focus on primary education had already boosted literacy rates that in turn boosts further education.
  2. Illiterate adults are more likely to fall victim to poor health and to have poor health care treatment later in life. World Atlas reported that there are around 493 million women who are unable or have difficulties reading text messages, filling out forms and reading their doctor’s prescription. If a person cannot properly read documents and prescriptions from a doctor, they might sign off on something without knowing what exactly it is. On top of that, they might not know what medications are good for them. Not to mention, without being able to write, it would be near impossible to keep track of past ailments or family history in the health care system.
  3. Literate adults are more capable of being able to take care of their children. Parents who have a basic education have an easier time making sure their children live to be over the age of five. This way, the cycle of poverty can be broken. Also, parents who have already seen the importance of having an education are more likely to push for their children to get the same level of education. Combined with previous reasons, parents who can properly read their prescription labels will be able to give children the right medicine and with a higher level of education, they are also more likely to have a steady job.
  4. Literacy is one part of the Sustainable Development Goal number four under UNESCO’s plan to reduce global poverty. The goal number four references equal education, affordable further education, widespread scholarships safe and non-violent locations for education and an increase of qualified teachers in each country.
  5. It is very plausible to increase literacy rates and it is producing great results in other countries already. In India, the computer-based functional literacy (CBFL) solution is providing free and remote education to rural areas and low-income areas around the country. It aims to teach children how to read, write and do math in approximately 50 hours. On top of that, the system focuses on teaching words rather than the whole alphabet. The typical participant learns around 500 words that are enough for him to navigate everyday life. More than 700,000 people have already benefited from CBFL in India.

These five reasons to increase literacy rates described in the article above showcase how being able to read and write can vastly improve someone’s life. Even if it does not fully bring them out of extreme poverty, these people will at least have the tools to make progress for themselves. Giving such tools is the least the world can do to help those in need and decrease the world poverty.

– Miranda Garbaciak
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Nicaragua
Nicaragua faces mounting violence and instability as citizens go out to the streets to protest the corrupt rule of President Daniel Ortega. During times of chaos, it is important to understand what conditions for citizens have been like in previous years. The following 10 facts about living conditions in Nicaragua presented in the text below both describe the unsettling state of affairs in the country and provide evidence of hope for a brighter future.  

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Nicaragua

  1. Nicaragua is the poorest country in Central America and the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, right after Haiti. Although the country’s economy has been growing in recent years, the fact about poverty still remains true and emphasizes the fact that there is a lot of work to be done.
  2. The unemployment rate for people between the ages of 15 and 24 is 8.5 percent. The country has the 110th highest unemployment rate out of 161 countries. Thus, Nicaragua does relatively well in terms of ensuring employment for its citizens.
  3. In 2015, 29.6 percent of the population was living below the poverty line. This number is quite high and suggests a dire need for economic growth.
  4. In 2016, 23.7 percent of the adult population was obese. This marked Nicaragua as the country with the 63rd highest adult obesity rate out of 192 countries. With development, it is important that the country initiate programs that provide its people with proper nutrition.
  5. In 2016, the life expectancy at birth for an average male was 72 years and for an average female, it was 78 years. Among the ten facts about living conditions in Nicaragua, this one is generally the most promising one as it indicates the relative general health of the population.
  6. In 2016, the infant mortality rate was 17 deaths for every 1,000 life births. In 2015, the United States faced just under 6 infant deaths for every 1,000 life births. This suggests that maternal and infant care in Nicaragua needs improvement.
  7. The labor force participation rate in 2017 was 66.6 percent. The rate of self-employment was 45.1 percent. This rate of participation is pretty much average for developing countries although low in comparison with developed countries.
  8. If literacy is defined as the ability to read and write, then 82.8 percent of people aged 15 years and older in 2015 were literate. Over 83 percent of women and 82.4 men were literate. This was the 106th highest literacy rate of 162 countries.
  9. In 2018, the approximate yearly minimum wage in Nicaragua was $2,218. This places the country in the top 37 percent of countries that are ranked by the minimum wage. There are 72 countries with higher minimum wage than Nicaragua.
  10. Between January and December of 2017, there were 55 reported cases of gender-based killing of women. In June 2017, an amendment to the Comprehensive Law on Violence against Women was approved. It reduced the definition of femicide to the private sphere suggesting that only crimes between spouses and partners would count as femicide.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Nicaragua provide a mixed account of the status of the country. Nicaragua is developing and it cannot be, in any case, characterized as a stable country. Recent progress, however, indicates that the country could have the potential to develop and attain stability. Late violent outbursts linked to government corruption thwart such hopes for progress and the current priority for the Nicaraguan people should be finding peace and justice through dark times. It is important to remember the progress that Nicaragua has made, and can continue to make after such peace is settled.

– Julia Bloechl

Photo: Flickr