Teaching young children to read is the cornerstone of improving educational outcomes and shaping a student’s developmental success. In Morocco, significant progress in universal access to education has been critical to improving children’s fundamental literacy skills. Despite this step forward, less than 15 percent of first-grade students are likely to graduate from high school, and Moroccan children consistently rank among the lowest achievers on international assessments. For these young learners, reading is limited to textbooks and the rote memorization of words, rather than learning the alphabet itself. To break these barriers to literacy, Moroccan schools are transforming how they teach children to read.
Reading challenges for Moroccan students start in the earliest grades. In 2011, an early grade reading assessment (EGRA) funded by USAID showed that 33 percent of second graders tested in the Doukkala-Abda region could not read a single word. These educational gaps represent a larger concern for the country’s development goals, as most literacy research holds that children who do not learn to read in early grades will likely make limited educational progress throughout their lives and have access to fewer economic opportunities.
To secure the academic and economic future of Moroccan children, USAID, in close partnership with the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, launched the Reading for Success – Small Scale Experimentation (RFS-SSE) activity. With a framework that emphasizes experimentation and monitoring, this early grade reading program develops and tests the most effective teaching methods for strengthening children’s Arabic reading skills.
“By ensuring strong reading skills at an early age, we are investing in a lifetime full of achievements for these students,” says Education Secretary General Youssef Belqasmi. “If students master reading, we will be able to improve not only how teachers teach Arabic, but all academic subjects. The gift of reading is one of the most valuable skills that our schools can give to our children.”