Illiteracy and its effect on poverty

Egypt has an estimated population of about 86 million people with population growth rate around 1.93%, which makes Egypt the most populous country in the Arab world. Egypt has a literacy rate of 71.4% for the whole population with the female literacy rate around 59.4%, which is a disappointing difference that shows a gender gap in favor of males. (As parents are less willing to invest in their daughters than their son’s education because they believe that by their late teens girls will likely marry off and move away).  Even though the percentage of the illiterate women in In Egypt is not a small percent but in comparison with other countries For instance in Burkina Faso, 68% of men and 87% of women cannot read or write, while in Niger the shares are 78% for men and 93% for women, Egypt is not that undeveloped. Illiteracy is not only a cause for poverty; but it also acts as an obstacle for the illiterate people to live their lives and have normal jobs and incomes. An illiterate person is far less likely to be able to improve his or her state, than someone who can read and write. Chances are he or she will not be able to address his or her problems efficiently nor improve his or her financial status. Which causes Egypt to be considered as a developing country because a country can never rise without it’s citizens and the citizens can not rise without proper education. Illiteracy affects the country’s economy and population’s growth rate as most of the illiterate people lack knowledge about the economy and the family planning strategies. In percentage terms literacy rates have improved a lot over the past 10 years, though in actual numbers illiterates have also increased. And this is directly related to population growth. There are lots of successful efforts, but with the increase in the population growth it is really difficult to decrease the number of illiterates.

According to the 2005 Case Study of the Human Development Report (HDR) for Egypt, issued jointly by the UNDP and the Ministry of Planning and Development, 35 percent of the population cannot read or write, putting Egypt among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of illiteracy. For three decades, the Egyptian government has worked to improve literacy rates. The National campaigns have helped reduce the country’s illiteracy rate from over 40 percent in 1991 to about 26 percent today. Programs have been devised recently specifically targeting illiterate women and working to improve school among girls with 45 percent of girls and women over the age of 15 years old being illiterate. In the rural areas, early marriages also contribute to female illiteracy. Very often, a family will take it’s daughter out of school aged 13 or 14 and by the time she’s grown up, she’ll have forgotten how to read and write properly. While on the other hand the females who complete their education are more likely to educate their families and have better lives. There was also a survey of Egyptian illiteracy that revealed the fact that dropouts and graduates of elementary school who later became adult illiterates tended neither to gain basic literacy during their school years nor to lose any in the years after. In fact, they dropped out or left elementary school with no education. Even though The government-run National Council for Motherhood and Childhood, for instance, runs its own literacy programs and sponsors a number of local NGOs who run their own workshops and courses. Among them is the Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women (ADEW), which runs literacy classes for women in marginalized areas of Cairo. However, both civil society and the government still have a long way to go before they can expect to see any effective results. Critics say the problem of female illiteracy is too deeply entrenched for a relatively small number of programs to handle. In Consensus unfortunately, many of the programs and laws in place are inefficient, despite their diversity. But the numbers are challenging. Educators must teach 1.4 million Egyptians to read and write every year just to keep up with the country’s population growth. Only then can they begin to make a mark on the illiteracy rate, shaving off one percent for every 700,000 taught.

-GS.


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