Thursday, January 28, 2010

Reading Crisis Alarms Moroccan Writers

It seems that there is crisis of book reading in al-Maghreb. Maybe turning off some of the televisions might help. Just a suggestion. Oh yes, and I would really disagree with the statement that most of the books in Morocco with the best info and analysis are in English or French. But I guess it depends on what kind of information one values. Here is the article from


'Reading crisis' alarms Moroccan writers


Ministry of Culture data show that Moroccans read only 2.5 books per year, while 1 in 10 don't read books at all.

By Naoufel Cherkaoui for Magharebia in Raba — 28/01/10

Worried by what they characterise as a national "reading crisis", Moroccan writers recently gathered to discuss restoring readers' love of books.

Cultivating a love of books begins in school, agreed the authors who took part in the January 22nd event in Rabat.

"We believe in the fundamental role that books play in the field of education," said conference organiser Mohamed Madkouri, who also chairs a pro-education group called the Popular Childhood Movement.

"We're implementing an annual programme for reading because our focus is on the problem of children and young people's aversion to reading," he added.

Writer Mohamed Behjaji suggested that a joint effort by the ministries of Culture and Education to encourage reading in schools may help Morocco overcome the reading crisis.

"There should be an international book day in which exhibitions are organised to remind people of reading," he told Magharebia on Friday in Rabat. "Moreover, there should be a partnership between the Ministry of Culture and the Interior Ministry for helping local councils acquire books. It's also a duty to start a real dialogue on the issue of book distribution."

Behjaji said the internet had dramatically changed reading habits.

The internet is a "dilemma" in that it offers opportunities to interact with the world, but it also has "two dangers", writer Mohamed Moujahid told Magharebia.

"The first is that knowledge comes to us through [the internet] in pieces, while book-based knowledge comes within the framework of a certain context," he said. "The second danger is laziness, because we've become addicted to copying and pasting."

A survey undertaken by author Hassan Ouezzani paints a bleak picture of the state of reading in the country. Citing research conducted by the Ministry of Culture in 2001, he said that Moroccans read only 2.5 books per year, while 1 in 10 do not read books at all.

In his work "The Book Sector in Morocco: Reality and Horizon," Ouezzani researched the types of books available to Moroccans. He found that more than 27% of the total number of publications was in the literature and criticism field, while legal sciences accounted for 18.11%. French-to-Arabic translations were far and away the most numerous, which he said might point to a shortage of books originally published in Arabic.

Khaldoun Mesnaoui, who heads the New Horizon Movement to promote cultural instruction and awareness, said more Arabic-language publications need to be created.

"There is also a problem at the level of quality," he told Magharebia. "Most of the books that are rich in valuable information and in-depth analysis are published in English and French."

Mesnaoui said the family and schools played key roles in encouraging students to read.

"I think that in order to get out of the crisis that reading is now undergoing, we need to have education for citizens that makes them understand that reading is a part of their daily routines," he added.

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