Literacy, Culture, and Technology in the Developing World: Reflections on Ten Months in Morocco


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Presentation for Marianne Martens's Gender and Technology course, FS 2009 04:547:340, at Rutgers University (November 2, 2009).

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Literacy, Culture, and Technology in the Developing World: Reflections on Ten Months in Morocco

  1. 1. Literacy, Culture, and Technology in the Developing World: Reflections on Ten Months in Morocco Gender and Technology 04:547:340 School of Communication & Information Rutgers University November 2, 2009 1 Heather Lea Moulaison
  2. 2. Outline • Concepts pertaining to this talk • Morocco as a developing country • Moroccan experiences, 2008-2009 2
  3. 3. Developed v. developing world • Developed countries: “A developed country is one that allows all its citizens to enjoy a free and healthy life in a safe environment.” (Annan, 2000) • The West: Developed countries in North America and Europe. • Developing countries: Nations with a low level of material well being. (wikipedia) • Other terms you may have heard: – First World, Third World (Second World) – Global South: The nations of Africa, Central and Latin America, and most of Asia ( – Least Developed Countries (LDC): ( • a low income, as measured by a three-year average estimate of the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita; • weak human resources, as measured by a composite index (Augmented Physical Quality of Life Index) based on indicators of life expectancy at birth, per capita calorie intake, combined primary and secondary school enrolment, and adult literacy; • a low level of economic diversification, as measured by a composite index (Economic Diversification Index) based on the share of manufacturing in GDP, the share of the labour force in industry, annual per capita commercial energy consumption, and UNCTAD's merchandise export concentration index. 3
  4. 4. Poverty indicators • Did you know... – 1.1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water – 2.4 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation – The average distance that women in Africa and Asia walk to collect water is 6 KM (3.72822715 miles) – In developing countries, 91 children out of 1,000 die before their fifth birthday – Of the 6 billion people in today's world, 1.2 billion live below $1 per day – The amount of money that the richest 1% of the world's people make each day equals what the poorest 57% make each year 4
  5. 5. Literacy • Literacy: “the quality or state of being literate; knowledge of letters; condition in respect to education, especially the ability to read and write” (Literacy, 1989): – “Literacy is a process of learning that enables individuals to achieve personal goals, develop their knowledge and potential, and participate fully in the community and wider society” (Global Monitoring Report Team EFA, 2008, p. 410), – An illiterate person is one “who cannot read and write with understanding a simple statement related to his/her everyday life.” (Global Monitoring Report Team EFA, 2008, p. 411), – Non-literate citizens are those coming from oral cultures that do not emphasize literacy or education (Cédelle, 2008), – 776 million adults in the world today remain without basic literacy skills (Global Monitoring Report Team EFA, 2008, p. 91), – Speech is a basic method of communication exploited by people in oral cultures (Brady, Dyson, & Asela, 2008). 5
  6. 6. Culture and exchange • Culture: “Learned behavior consisting of thoughts, feelings, and actions” (Hoft, 1996, p. 41), – “Mental programming” (Hofstede, 1980) Five dimensions of culture (Hofstede, 2001) – 1. Tolerate authority? 2. Tolerate ambiguity? 3. “Men’s work” is different from “women’s work” 4. Individualistic or interested in the group? 5. Short-term or long-term orientation? • Fulbright Grant: student and teacher grants for US citizens to travel abroad for research and study; also, grants for foreign nationals to come to US for research and study. – I went to teach Library and Information Science (LIS) in an African country last year. 6 – If you are an American citizen, YOU QUALIFY!
  7. 7. Morocco and the Mediterranean Satellite map from 7
  8. 8. Higher ed. and women in Morocco • Ecole des Sciences de l’Information, Rabat, Morocco 8
  9. 9. Education in North Africa COUNTRY ADULT LITERACY RATE (%) SCHOOL ENROLMENT (%) Libya 81.7 94 Tunisia 74.3 75 Algeria 69.9 73 Egypt 71.4 76 Morocco 52.3 58 Maghrebi Education Indicators, 2004 (UN Development Programme 2006). 9
  10. 10. Male v. female literacy in Morocco % FEMALE RATIO OF FEMALE AGE GROUP IN MOROCCO LITERATE RATE TO MALE Adult literacy rate (aged 15 and older) 39.6 0.6 Youth literacy rate (aged 15-24) 60.5 0.75 Literacy rates, Males to Females in 2005 (Human Development Report, 2007/2008). 10
  11. 11. Illiteracy and daily life in cities • Life in Rabat, the capital of Morocco Photo by Eric Childress Photo by Ray Schwartz And in Casablanca, the economic capital of Morocco. 11
  12. 12. ICTs and technology in Morocco • Morocco has the highest Internet penetration on the African continent, with 19.9 percent (UNCTD, 2007, p. 25) of Moroccans having Internet access. • Relative to other African countries when Internet access averages around 5 percent, Moroccan access is very advanced. 12
  13. 13. Internet access • Sharing wifi between apartments • Culture of Internet cafes – “In Morocco, the Café was and still is the domain of men and this transferred to the concept of the Internet Café as well” (Gunawardena, et al., p. 527). – Online chat rooms are equally open to men and women, and women are able to participate with a sense of freedom that they may not enjoy in traditional non-anonymous face-to-face communication with Moroccan peers (Gunawardena, et al., p. 527). 13
  14. 14. Of Morocco’s 34,000,000 inhabitants … *From the CIA World Factbook MOROCCAN TECHNOLOGY* YEAR NUMBER INHABITANTS Telephones - mainlines 2006 1,266,000 Telephones - mobile cellular 2006 16,005,000 Internet hosts 2007 137,187 Internet users 2006 6,100,000 •Morocco, along with Maghrebi countries Algeria and Tunisia, is one of several countries in Africa to have a cellular phone penetration of more than 50 percent. •Non-literate Moroccans and other non-literate people (Brady, Dyson, & Asela, 2008) have been observed to use text messaging features on mobile phones; therefore, not all of the communication taking place through the use of mobile 14 phones is speech-based.
  15. 15. Issues in development • Copyright infringement: – Pirated movies in theatres in Casablanca – Pirated DVDs sold on the street – Pirated CDs sold in the market • Software piracy – High taxes on luxury items – Importing software designed/created elsewhere • Microsoft creating new pricing structures for Africa. Bottom line: more people accessing technology! 15
  16. 16. Empowering women? • NGOs and microcredit projects • UNESCO’s education goals • Community-based financing 16
  17. 17. Thank you. Merci. ‫شكرا‬ Questions? 17