Illiteracy in the Arab world
Regional-Lebanon, Education, 9/10/1999
So far, nine years have elapsed following the first international day for eradicating illiteracy in 1990. Nine years have also passed since the convening of the international conference on " Education -- for all" in Jometin, Thailand in the same year, yet illiteracy in the Arab states is still a persistent problem, where the number of illiterate among adults above 15 year old is 65 million, representing a percentage of 43% (32% among men and 56% among women).
Illiteracy in Lebanon is still among the greatest problems, with a rate of 13.6% of the Lebanese resident population at the age of 10 and above.
On the international level, some 880 million adult illiterates are in the world, two thirds of them women, and 120 million children did not attend schools, according to information said by the secretary general of the UN, Kofi Annan, who addressed a message to the international community on the occasion of the world day on the eradication of illiteracy.
In his message Annan expressed his optimism over the latest estimates of UNESCO which say illiteracy among adults is decreasing continuously from more than one third of the world's population in the year 1970 to only one quarter in 1990, expecting this average to be reduced to one fifth by the beginning of the new millennium.
On this occasion, the UN information office circulated a statement on illiteracy in the Arab states and the role of UNESCO's regional office in Beirut, in which it indicated that the year 2000 is a turning point for evaluating what had been achieved and a new impetus for better achievements in fighting illiteracy. The statement said there are some 6.7 million children in the Arab states who are of school age but are not registered in the schools (2.4 million males and 4.3 million females).
In the same framework, Lebanese Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Michael Mousa on Wednesday held a press conference in which he tackled the analytical study of the results of a data survey carried out by the project to improve living conditions in Lebanon. The results say that 32.8% of the Lebanese families and 33% of individuals, including a huge number of those aged between 10-19 have not minimum rate of education.
He added that several rural areas and villages in Lebanon are prohibited from opportunities for basic education for both children and adults alike, a matter "which necessities clinging to applying compulsory and free of charge education for the elementary schools."
Literacy in Algeria in 1998 was estimated at 61.6% (73.9% among males and 49% among females); Bahrain's literacy rate was estimated in 1995 at 85.2% (89.1% of males and 79.4% of females); in Comoros total literacy in 1998 was estimated at 57.3% (64.2% of males and 50.4% of females); while according to 1995 estimates, literacy in Djibouti stood at 46.2% (60.3% of men and 32.7% of women).
According to a 1995 estimate, literacy in Egypt stood at 51.4% (63.6% of men and 38.8% of women); Iraqi literacy was estimated in 1995 at 58% (70.7% of men and 45% of women); in Jordan the literacy rate was estimated in 1995 at 86.6% (93.4% among males and 79.4% among females); while Kuwaiti literacy was estimated in 1995 at 78.6% (82.2% of men and 74.9% of women).
In Lebanon, literacy was estimated in 1997 at 86.4% (90.8% of men and 82.2% of women); Libyan literacy was estimated in 1995 as 76.2% (87.9% among males and 63% among females); and in Mauritania, literacy was estimated in 1995 as 37.7% (49.6% of males and 26.3% of females).
The literacy rate in Morocco was estimated in 1995 as 43.7% (56.6% of males and 31% of females); in Qatar, literacy was estimated in 1995 as 79.4% (79.2% of males and 79.9% of females); and in Saudi Arabia a 1995 estimate put the literacy rate at 62.8% (71.5% among men and 50.2% among women); and in Somalia, a 1990 estimate put total literacy at 24% (36% of males and 14% of females).
According to a 1995 estimate, literacy in Sudan stood at 46.1% (57.7% of males and 34.6% of females); in Syria, a 1997 estimate put the literacy rate at 70.8% (85.7% of men and 55.8% of women); and in Tunisia a 1995 estimate said the literacy rate was 66.7% (78.6% of men and 54.6% of women).
Literacy in the United Arab Emirates was estimated in 1995 as 79.2% (78.9% among males and 79.8% among females); and in Yemen, a 1990 estimate put the literacy rate at 38% (53% of men and 26% of women).
Figures for the Palesinian territories and Oman were not available.
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