Despite the coronavirus crisis, organizers opened a temporary beach library in El Mansouria.
Rabat – Associations in Morocco are finding creative ways to encourage reading among youth and increase literacy rates. They are taking the library to the beach.
This week, the Moroccan Youth Forum for the Third Millennium (MYFTM) organized the third edition of the Beach Library, in El Mansouria, near Casablanca. Despite the coronavirus crises, organizers recognized the importance of maintaining the tradition.
Volunteers organized books and magazines from a multitude of genres on shelves and tables. With this creative initiative, they hope youth to think outside the box and embrace reading in various places. Their goal is to encourage Moroccan youth to read on a daily basis to help develop their passion for reading.
Even with the COVID-19 pandemic increased concerns about being in public gatherings or touching objects that may be contaminated, Hespress reported a moderate turnout at the beach library.
Abdelali Bounasser, coordinator of MWFTM, in a statement to Hespress, noted that organizers met all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the participants. Each visitor had their temperature measured before entering. The association required everyone to wear face masks and use hand sanitizer. Most importantly, readers respected social distancing rules.
Ashraf Nassiri, treasurer of MWFTM, said that the initiative does not receive financial support from local authorities. The association is completely responsible for funding the project. They hope to gain support in order to grow the program, extend it to more beaches across Morocco, and dramatically increase literacy among youth.
Literacy in Morocco
Between television and social media, Moroccans do not spend much time reading for pleasure. A 2012 study showed that children spent three hours per day watching television but only one minute reading.
Historically, literacy rates in Morocco have been low. Morocco’s literacy rate for 2009 was a mere 56.08%. However, initiatives in recent years have moved the needle in a positive direction. As of 2018, Morocco’s literacy rate increased to 73.75%.
In his speech on the 47th anniversary of the King and People’s Revolution on August 20, 2000, King Mohammed VI ordered that “mosques should remain open to provide literacy courses and religious, civic and health education according to a well-developed program.”
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs launched a program to combat illiteracy in 2000 in response to the King’s call for literacy courses. The program has benefited more than 3.3 million people since its launch, including nearly 315,000 learners in the 2018-2019 school year alone.
The National Library of Morocco in Rabat (BNRM) recently launched a campaign to ease access to books, increase literacy rates, and entertain readers during the coronavirus crisis.
BNRM launched an initiative to provide its subscribers with free access to all of its e-books. The national library offered free audiobook downloads on the same website.
BNRM aims to diversify reading opportunities in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, characterized by a lack of activity. Titles include famous works that marked both Arab and French literature, as well as stories for children to help them develop literacy skills and cultivate their imagination.