By Mohamed Lakdali
By Mohamed Lakdali
Fez – The plight of reading witnesses a deteriorating state in Moroccan society. Many intellectuals and writers have warned of the impact of this phenomenon and its consequences that can lead to a real crisis of reading in Morocco in the future. So, why Moroccans do not read? And what are the main motives behind the low rate of reading in the Kingdom?
Many Moroccan intellectuals attribute this phenomenon to the apathy of individuals who show no interest or enthusiasm for reading; while others ascribe this catastrophic situation to the weak role of family in motivating and teaching their children the importance of reading in their lives.
Numerous actions confirm that there is an authentic reading crisis in Moroccan society. Among these aspects, the absence of infrastructures such as public libraries and book stores. When basic things like these stand as a barrier to hinder people from reading, then a general apathy towards reading is expected.
According to poet Jamal Azarghid, a member of the Moroccan Union of Writers, the main reasons behind the low reading rate in the country are due to major factors including the lack of family education to instill its importance in younger generations. He also mentions other serious factors that play a crucial role in this dire situation. For instance, digital dominance, or what he calls “net attractiveness,” has occupied the readers’ time and tempted them into a world of time-consuming social media, video games, and other distractions. Moreover, the weak purchasing power of individuals in the country is another difficulty, especially when we consider the daily income of the majority of citizens.
The prevalence of illiteracy contributes by more than 40% in maintaining the status quo of reading in Morocco. What is more, those that are literate such as pupils and students are content with only studying their courses. This, indeed, implies a lack of interest towards general reading. A great percentage of students from junior secondary school level to higher institutions have no interest in reading at all. They have concluded that reading is a hard job rather than a pleasurable one. The reason for this conclusion is thought to be a result of not taking reading as a daily routine since their early stages. If they had, they would have discovered that, “No entertainment is so inexpensive as reading nor any pleasure so lasting.”
It seems that we currently live in a culture that heavily relies on messaging services, more than any other time in history. People read messages all day long. Google, Twitter, and Facebook deliver words, and people cannot take their eyes off their smart phones. It is a ‘text’ and information distribution mechanism. We actually have trouble not reading. Folks are always checking their email and their messages. Sometimes it is hard to pull away from this matrix of letters.
According to a survey conducted by the Demographic, Economic, Legal and Statistical Studies Bureau, the reading of books in Morocco does not exceed 2%. The study also notes that Moroccans do not spend a dirham in the year to buy a book. Whether academically or culturally, this ratio is considered normal in a society where the illiteracy rate surpasses 40%. This is a reflection of the recession taking place in public libraries, kiosks, and even newspapers and magazines sold in the streets.
Morocco World News interviewed several individuals to comment on the reasons behind the low rate of reading in Moroccan society. Khalid, a BA student from Taounate said, “the educational system does not encourage reading books; the high rate of illiteracy in Morocco is one of the main reasons. Social conditions like poverty, crime, and unemployment distract literate people’s attention from reading.”
Asmae, an MA student from Tétouan stated, “Moroccans don’t read because they are not used to do so. In developed countries we find that parents read for their kids before going to sleep. People exchange books as gifts; some even write books about their lives. In these countries you find people reading on the bus, train, tramway etc… They are time-conscious. Maybe Moroccans don’t read because they are not time-conscious.”
Mustapha Ben Moussa, a BA student from Fez said, “We don’t read because the majority of children don’t see their parents read, don’t receive encouragement for reading neither at school nor home.” Chaimaa, a student from Mohammadia said, “The low rate of reading in Moroccan society is due to net attractiveness … individuals prefer using the internet rather than reading a book.”
Reading is much like body exercise, the more we perform a particular exercise, the more our bodies get used to it. Reading, like any other task in life, takes time to be inculcated into someone. We can extract relevant data from printed pages; not just breadth but also depth of information.
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