Literacy is an indispensable foundation for lifelong learning and contributes to greater participation of populations in economic development. Youth and adults are to acquire relevant and recognized proficiency levels of functional literacy and numeracy skills. According to UNESCO GMR (2006), a person is defined as “functionally literate who can engage in all those activities in which literacy is required for effective functioning of his [or her] group and community and also for enabling him [or her] to continue to use reading, writing and calculation for his [or her] own and the community’s development”.
Literacy programmes and methodologies should respond to the needs and contexts of learners within the framework of lifelong learning. Numeracy and literacy programmes provision pro, which is an area that requires strengthening, should be part of. ICTs, particularly mobile technologies, hold great promise for accelerating progress towards this target.
Education 2030 agenda emphasizes the importance of youth and adult literacy and numeracy achievement for lifelong learning. In addressing youth and adult literacy and numeracy achievement, countries commit to achieve target 6 by 2030 as stated below:
By 2030, ensure that all youth and at least [x] per cent of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy
The policy brief outlines the context, situational analysis and policy recommendations on youth and adult literacy and numeracy achievement. It provides the Arab States with information and strategies that will guide policy makers to determine targets and actions for youth and adult literacy and numeracy provision, participation and skills development.
Context The Arab state region consists of 19 countries that are in four categories: Developed, least developing countries, Mashreq and Maghreb. The developed countries are: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman; The Least Developing Countries (LDC) are; Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen. The category of Mashreq countries are; Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. Maghreb includes Algeria, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia.
Since the year 2000, the Arab States Region countries have made considerable progress in achieving the Education for All goals. However, the most significant challenge to progress in education is conflict, which exacerbates inequality, poverty, exclusion and marginalization and in particular access to quality education. In this context, this policy brief analyses and discusses the situation of youth and adult literacy and numeracy achievement in the Arab States Region.
The areas of focus for target 6 of the education 2030 agenda are provision and skills. The first area of focus on provision entails access to adult education programmes and is measured by tracking progress in participation in adult literacy programmes. The second area of focus is on literacy and numeracy skills for youth and adults and progress is tracked by obtaining proportions of youth and adults proficient in literacy skills, proportions of youth and adults proficient in numeracy skills and establishing youth and adult literacy rates. Adult literacy levels in the Arab Region improved by 22 percentage points from 55% in 2000 to reach 77% (Male 85% and Female 68%) in 2011. However, the actual number of illiterate adults in the region declined marginally by about 4 million people; from approximately 51.6 million in 2000 to 47.6 million in 2011, of whom two thirds of the illiterate in the region are female. The Arab States Region achieved significant increase in youth (between 15‐24 years of age) literacy rates from approximately 83.0% in 2000 to 89.5% in 2012.
Policy Recommendations A set of strategic approaches proposed to inform actions to deliver and monitor progress towards achieving literacy and numeracy for youth and adults in the Arab States Region. The proposed strategies in this target focus on provision and skills. i. Establish a sector-wide and multi-sectoral approach for formulating literacy policy and plans
Establish a sector-wide and multi-sectoral approach for formulating literacy policy and plans as well as budgeting. The collaboration involves relevant ministries including education, health, social welfare, labour, industry, agriculture and the civil society.
ii. Design and implement a qualification framework for quality assurance of literacy and numeracy programmes Put in place literacy and numeracy programmes national evaluation mechanisms. Scale up effective adult literacy and skills programmes involving civil society as partners, building on their rich experience and good practice.
iii. Establish a literacy assessment framework and tools for proficiency evaluation It is important to collect, analyze and share relevant and timely data on literacy levels and literacy and numeracy needs, disaggregated by gender and other indicators of marginalization
UNIICEF (2015) Regional Report on Out of School Children. UNICEF MENA Regional Office UNESCO (2015). Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2015. Achievements and Challenges UNESCO (2015) Education for All Regional Synthesis Report Of The 2015 National Reviews In The Arab States Region. UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education In the Arab States ‐ Beirut UN (2015) Framework for Action Education 2030: Towards inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all (Draft) UNESCO (2006). Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2006. Literacy for Life.