RABAT (Albawaba) - This month, Morocco is launching a major effort to eradicate illiteracy, which effects 55 percent of the nation's 28 million people.
Literacy courses will start in mosques across the country from September 15th, the Moroccan Endowments and Islamic affairs department announced this week.
Registration began on the first of the month and anyone between the ages of 15 and 45 is entitled to enroll. A toll-free phone number was set up to provide free information.
The decision to use mosques as the center of the campaign was announced by King Mohammed VI in August. He said mosques will be open "to offer literacy courses in a solid program, along with religious, civic and health education."
The king said that men and women teachers will be hired from the ranks of chronically unemployed university graduates and the government will provide textbooks, stationery and other equipment.
The minister of endowments and Islamic affairs, Abdelkebir Aloui Mdaghri, said students will be taught reading, writing, and a little mathematics along with religious and civic lessons. He said 100 mosques will take part in the program and 10,000 people should benefit this year.
The king's initiative to make the mosques instruments for disseminating science and culture for the benefit of society was universally hailed by officials, scholars, ulemas (theologians), and the general public.
King Mohammed has singled out illiteracy as the most serious obstacle to national development and progress and he pledged to eradicate the scourge. "We have decided to take a keen interest in getting rid of that illiteracy that unfortunately remains widespread in cities and the countryside," he said.
Other commentators see the king's campaign as aimed at countering Islamic fundamentalists who have been operating in the poorer layers of society, offering people money and literacy courses. Activists also have been running summer camps teaching the "true practice of Islam."
The funamentalists have grown bolder since the king lifted house arrest last June on the leader of the Al-Adl Wa Al-Ihssan (Justice and Charity) association, Sheikh Abdeslam Yassin. He had been confined since 1988 for his opposition to the late King Hassan II.
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