A few years ago, ProLiteracy considered how it could combat the major issue of low literacy in the Arab world. In particular, women in this region of the world have the lowest literacy rates among women anywhere. There’s a number of reasons that 26 percent of women in the Arab world cannot read, including poverty, social and cultural norms that favor men, arranged marriages, and generational illiteracy, all of which could be addressed by teaching women to read and write.
With funding from the Dr. Robert S. Laubach Publishing and Innovation Fund, ProLiteracy made the decision in 2017 to translate and digitize the New Readers Press core literacy series Laubach Way to Reading into Arabic. For decades, adult literacy programs have used the Laubach methodology to successfully teach adults to read and write. So, by translating these materials, beginning with Level 1, ProLiteracy would be providing the Arab world with a proven solution and much needed literacy materials to teach adults in their native language as well as training for teachers.
Recently, ProLiteracy partner program Anba Moussa Al-Aswad (ANBA) became the first program to use Laubach Way to Reading in Arabic with students. In slums of Upper Egypt, ANBA serves adolescent girls and young women to teach them in prevention-based programs in the context of sexual and reproductive health and social issues faced by females. Using Laubach Way to Reading in Arabic, the program can first provide basic literacy instruction, and then it can introduce instruction surrounding sexual health and human rights.
Because of COVID-19, ANBA had to reduce the number of students it could serve, but since implementing the Laubach curriculum this past year, seven learners have taken the national Adult Learning exam prepared by the Ministry of Education. This is a huge achievement and a testament to the value of basic literacy instructional materials that are accessible and written in Arabic.
Students are making progress and we are pleased to share these success stories we received in March:
“My name is Sabrein, I am 38 years old, (and) a mother for 5 children. I regularly attend the literacy classes to be able to answer questions that my kids … ask me. I need to help them in their studying. I can read now and write. Very proud of myself as I participated in the national literacy exam and am waiting for my score.”
“My name is Safaa, (I am) 28 years old, a mother for 3 kids. Learning was my dream, and when I was young, my family sent my brother to school but they refused to send me. They said since I am a girl (there was) no need for me to be educated. After I married, I decided to learn. … The methodology used in Anba Moussa is helping me to learn. I am very proud of my kids and myself too.”
“My name is Yasmin, (I am) 27 years old, a mother for 2 daughters. Since I got married, my husband started bullying me and kept saying that I am ignorant and do not understand. I found Anba Moussa literacy classes. I attended the classes regularly. I can now write my name and read the metro stations. I will continue to attend the classes until I pass the national exam.”
In the years ahead, ProLiteracy plans to expand the use of Laubach Way to Reading in Arabic to the five countries in the Arab world with the lowest literacy. Morrocco is targeted as a potential next country for using the Laubach materials after Egypt. Additionally, a second level of the curriculum based on Laubach Way to Reading Level 2 would help advance those learners who come to literacy programs already with a foundation in basic reading and writing.
How can you access Laubach Way to Reading Arabic?
Laubach Way to Reading Arabic is a free resource, funded by generous donors who contributed to the Dr. Robert S. Laubach Publishing & Innovation Fund. Those who are interested in this program and content may reach out to Alesha Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.