Situating senior women in the literacy landscape of North Africa Public Deposited

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  • Although literacy programs in North African countries vary in method, management approach, and in content emphasis, their discourse is strikingly similar: It focuses too often on learners' deficits and considers the condition of these “illiterate” subjects, i.e. persons lacking the 3Rs, as a “disease” against which a war of eradication must be waged. For Government Agencies, NGOs, and other institutional actors in literacy projects, such lexicon of combat, in which the lack of print culture becomes a physiological scourge, becomes a convenient framework to develop measurable outcomes for the literacy efforts. However, as will be demonstrated in this paper, there is a serious risk that their reductive discourse will result in their losing a real opportunity to significantly enhance learning outcomes if the local knowledge of women, and particularly, senior women, are not integrated in the literacy efforts. Senior women are repositories of wisdom in their communities. From life experience, they have developed multiple literacy skills, unrelated to schooling, by which they contribute significantly in caring for the health of their kin and neighbors, in teaching survival and subsistence skills, and in transmitting their pragmatic wisdom to younger generations. Based on fieldwork conducted in rural Tunisia and Morocco, the authors provide examples to demonstrate that including senior women's knowledge in the literacy landscape would strengthen the literacy efforts upon which sustainable development depends.
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  • Rice, L., & Hamdy, K. (2008). Situating senior women in the literacy landscape of North Africa. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 2008(190), 27-47. doi:10.1515/IJSL.2008.011
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