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Preventing Reversals  in Literacy Gains
People

Preventing Reversals in Literacy Gains

The Literacy Movement Organization (LMO) - established on a decree of the father of the Islamic Revolution Imam Khomeini in January 1980 - has helped boost literacy rates in the country. However, a large section of the people who benefitted from the literacy campaign has “relapsed into illiteracy due to the lack of follow-up and incentives to use the skills acquired.”
“The LMO must take necessary measures to prevent setbacks in the literacy movement by creating the needed impetus and promoting use of newly-acquired knowledge in daily study content as the first means of tackling the issue,” said Minister of Education Ali Asghar Fani, quoted by ISNA.
He said the cabinet has made several recommendations for motivating illiterates, including establishment of learning centers that could be effective in mobilizing other organizations to collaborate in eradicating illiteracy.
“Combating the deep-rooted problem requires wide cooperation at the national level, especially in the Sixth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (starting 2016), Fani stressed.

 High on Agenda
The issue of illiteracy has been high on the ministry’s agenda since President Hassan Rouhani took office, the minister said, and the administration “is firm on fighting illiteracy and providing all students with educational facilities.”
“There are 5000 schools with five or fewer students operating in the current academic year (started Sept 23) as well as 100 single-student schools. This is a costly policy, but is a promising investment for the nation’s future.”
He also said imparting reading and writing skills to illiterate parents has been implemented as of last year and the staff is well-equipped for the purpose.
“The same policies will continue in the upcoming year (starts March 21). We plan to study the experiences of other nations on illiteracy, and will be happy to share our knowledge,” Fani added.
 Promotion
Meanwhile, deputy minister of education Ali Bagherzadeh said despite the efforts to fight illiteracy, the number of illiterates and people with low literacy levels is still high among the under 50 age group. He was addressing a special meeting on people and government cooperation to tackle illiteracy, ISNA reports.
Bagherzadeh, who is also head of the LMO, noted that literacy has become “difficult and costly due the higher ceiling on the minimum literacy requirements.”
“Education is the most important criterion for sustainable development and poverty alleviation,” he stressed, and pointed to the meeting of the Supreme Council of Literacy, held after a gap of eight years, that was attended by officials to launch the “cooperative education plan,” approved by parliament recently. To provide soldiers, prisoners, refugees and 10-20 year-olds with education is among the plan objectives.

 Motivation Lacking
Highlighting the importance of collaboration among state organizations and NGOs to fight illiteracy, he said the real challenge facing the LMO is lack of motivation among the targeted groups, despite providing them with incentives such as free classes and books, bags and stationery and adjusting class hours to learner’s demands.”
In the last decade, the organization prioritized education of women who currently constitute 80% of the targeted population. Literacy rate is 3% higher among men than women (10-49 years), while the gap between rural and urban literacy rate has narrowed to 7%.
The average age of illiterates supported by the LMO is less than 31, he said, adding: “Luckily, the registration of children in primary schools exceeds 98%.” He pointed to the contribution of NGOs, which has helped increase the number of people under the campaign to exceed 440,000. “The literacy rate for 10-24 year-olds has increased to 97% and to 95% for those in the 10-49 age group. 

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