Volunteers running a new mobile library say they hope to encourage students to start cultural clubs and book clubs in their schools.
Residents around Ben Guerir, a city 70 kilometers north of Marrakech, may spot a small truck outfitted with a library making a tour of schools and settlements in the coming days. The mobile library, also called the Caravan Reading Bridge, is conducting reading workshops and providing schools with an interactive reading program, reported state-owned media outlet Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).
The mobile library began operating in Ben Guerir on Wednesday, October 23, as a part of the National Initiative for Human Development’s (INDH) multi-year development plan to increase human capital in Morocco through education. The truck’s presentation was also part of the official launch of a national awareness campaign about early childhood education from October 21 to November 4.
Project managers expect the mobile library “to ‘democratize’ access to extracurricular activities that make reading more attractive,” as reported in MAP.
Sponsored by the Social Work Association (ABOS), the mobile library gets its funding from the INDH. Equipment for the mobile library project cost MAD 85,500 ($8,900). The figure does not include the cost of management and maintaining the vehicle.
The project began November 2018 and has served approximately 3,000 people in a year.
Other aims of the mobile library include combating high school dropout rates and preventing delinquency and deviant behavior.
The future of literacy in Morocco
Volunteers of ABOS said they want students to be inspired by the Caravan Reading Bridge to create “cultural museums in schools” and to start school clubs, such as book clubs or cultural clubs.
ABOS anticipates adding a multimedia library to the caravan with audio, video, and digital media. In addition to the truck, the association hopes to start “small libraries installed on eco-friendly bicycles” and libraries in schools, according to MAP.
Morocco has space for improvement in reading and literacy. The literacy rate in Morocco is 74% among people aged 15 and older, according to UNESCO’s 2018 figures. In 2016, Morocco ranked 58th in literacy among 58 countries. However, UNESCO’s 2018 data shows that literacy rates are significantly higher among young people (98%) than among seniors (34%).
The Caravan Reading Bridge is also part of “My city reads” (Madinati takraa), a project to promote culture in the Rhamna province surrounding Ben Guerir.
INDH partnered with the Institute for Research in Solar Energy and New Energies (IRESEN) to create the mobile library. The project is part of INDH’s third phase of development activities, launched in September 2018.