Education / Professional training - Morocco - Association

Functional Literacy Programme for Women of the Argan Cooperative

08.09.2017 / Created by (EMWF)

With a population of over 32 million, literacy rates in Morocco stand at an average of 56%, representing over 10 million people lacking basic literacy skills. With literacy programmes frequently being carried out in urban areas, opportunities for women in poor rural areas to acquire these skills are relatively few and far between. Despite the lack of education opportunities, rural women are quite active in the agricultural sector, especially in the Argan oil trade which is unique to the country.

In 2003, the association Ibn Al Baytar (AIB) introduced a quite innovative approach to address the shortage of literacy programs in rural areas by including literacy classes with income generating activities in its programs that aim to bring together social and economic progress with the preservation of the environment.

This particular initiative targeted Women’s Cooperatives producing Argan oil. This came to benefit over 3000 women in the Argan trade, but a diagnostic study in 2006 brought to light that the need to consolidate literacy skills was being overlooked, also the fact that many of the women spoke Berber and weren´t benefiting from the Arabic literacy programs. This led to the implementation in 2008 of a new literacy programme designed to address these needs in Amazigh, a Berber language spoken by the women participating in it.

The programme is implemented in five provinces of the region Souss Massa Draa in central Morocco. Each year 240 women and girls from rural areas participate in the programme with a total of over 480 rural women benefiting from it since its inception. The programme is first literacy programme in Morocco to produce and use audio-visual material in the Amazigh language, and it aims at making the Argan trade´s women aware of the importance of environmental protection and preservation by:

  • Making women aware of the importance of the Argan Biosphere and what is at stake in the preservation of the Argan forest
  • Making women aware of the primary importance of cooperative and solidarity organisation
  • Endowing the cooperative’s women with knowledge of legislation and cooperative management
  • Endowing the cooperative’s women with skills in the areas of quality norms/standards and traceability procedures in Argan oil production
  • Increasing women’s awareness of the obstacles/constraints in Argan sales and the value of promoting fair trade
  • Endowing the cooperative women’s knowledge of new family laws, especially those concerning the status of divorced women and the basic principles of family management.
  • As the programme is being implemented in key areas of the Souss Massa Drâa region, notably the provinces of Agadir Idaoutanane, Chtouka Ait Baha, Taroudant and Tiznit, more and more requests are being received to extend the programme further. It is now being used as a model in other women’s cooperatives in other sectors besides Argan.

Attached you find a very interesting documentary on this program by SBS Australia 


Ibn Al Baytar



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