37. The Charter set the objective of bringing the overall illiteracy rate down below 20 per cent by 2010 and the virtual elimination of illiteracy by 2015, as well as re enrolling all dropouts, girls and boys, by 2010.23
38. The Office of the Secretary of State for Literacy and Non Formal Education was created in 1997 as part of the drive to universalize education, guarantee everyone’s right to education and combat illiteracy. In 2003 the Office adopted a national strategy on literacy and non formal education to gradually eradicate illiteracy and enrol or re enrol girls and boys aged 8 to 16 who are not in school or have dropped out. Morocco has implemented an intervention strategy based on sponsorship and cooperation with local associations; establishment of separate structures at the central, regional and local levels to plan, coordinate and evaluate action taken in non formal education and literacy; formulation or improvement of programmes and diversification of funding modalities; and the inclusion of such activities in all anti poverty programmes.
39. In 2004 and 2005, 500,000 to 700,000 people benefited from the various literacy programmes, 80 per cent of them women and most of those in rural areas. The programmes were mostly carried out by NGOs (56 per cent) and the remainder by local offices of the Ministry of Education (27 per cent) or State operators (17 per cent).
40. There are three major types of non formal education programmes: programmes to re enrol girls and boys who have recently dropped out (Istidrak programme); national programmes established in 2005 to support girls and boys at risk of dropping out; and non formal education programmes implemented by local associations and funded either by the State or by private partners. Some 35,000 students benefited from non formal education programmes in 2005.24 41. According to recent information provided by the Government, 38.45 per cent of people aged over 10 (around 10 million) cannot read or write, 54.39 per cent of illiterates live in rural areas and 46.8 per cent of Moroccan women are illiterate.25 The persistence of illiteracy is primarily attributable to a combination of (a) the fact that children drop out and fail to complete primary or junior high school and (b) the limited coverage of non formal education arrangements.
42. The Special Rapporteur wishes to draw the attention of the Government of Morocco to the risk of an over utilitarian approach to non formal education that would tie it to success or failure in school without taking account of learners’ needs and characteristics.
3. Inclusion of children and adolescents with disabilities in
43. The right to education of persons with disabilities is established in the Constitution and is the subject of laws and regulations.26 In Morocco, children with disabilities are integrated into regular schools. Under the National Education and Training Charter (arts. 142 and 143), schools are required to install amenities to enable children with disabilities to get around, as well as suitable premises, programmes and supervision, and special institutes and schools are to be opened.
44. Education for people with disabilities is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, in cooperation with the Office of the Secretary of State for the Family, Child Welfare and Persons with Disabilities, and other relevant ministries. On 1 April 2006 the Ministry of Education, the Office of the Secretary of State, the Ministry of Health and the Mohammed V Solidarity Foundation signed a collaboration agreement on the education of disabled children, setting out 10 basic measures for improvement: upgrading or introducing integrated classes; training those involved to deal with children with disabilities; health measures; rehabilitation; development of coordination and partnership mechanisms; development of a regulatory and organizational framework for the integration of disabled children in schools; and social support for the education of children with disabilities. In this regard it is important to recall that, as the Special Rapporteur pointed out in his report on the right to education of persons with disabilities, their inclusion in the education system must always be accompanied by real structural changes, in organization, in the curriculum and in teaching and learning strategies, so that their “integration” is truly inclusive and does not simply lead to the exclusion of persons with disabilities in ordinary schools.27 45. According to the most recent government statistics (2004), 5.12 per cent of Moroccans are disabled. There are around 230,000 disabled children aged 4 to 15, who present different types of disability and of whom 74,730 are in school. Official figures indicate that 32.4 per cent of Moroccan 4 to 15 year olds with disabilities are in school and that their enrolment rate is twice as high in urban as in rural areas.28At the same time, the enrolment rate for children with disabilities is only one third of the rate for able bodied children. According to information provided by the Office of the Secretary of State for the Family, Child Welfare and Persons with Disabilities, an agreement has been signed with the Ministry of Education to set up 240 integrated classes per year. In 2005 there were 153 integrated classes,29 33 special education centres for the whole country,30 including 7 for hearing impaired children and 26 for children with intellectual or mental disabilities.
46. Local associations involved in the care of children with disabilities, and other NGOs, have emphasized the problems of under enrolment of these children and of segregation in school, whereby they are relegated to separate classes with teachers with little or no training and with no teaching materials suited to their special needs. These associations report that schools are physically inaccessible and that some head teachers and parents have a prejudiced view of the integration of disabled children in regular schools, the law notwithstanding. They also highlight the inadequacy of the social and financial support given to families to help them cope with the high costs of schooling and other outgoings specifically related to disabled children’s health, due to the fact that the Office of the Secretary of State responsible for persons with disabilities does not have a budget big enough to cover their needs. Lastly, the Special Rapporteur has been informed that the care of persons with disabilities, including their education, was largely assured by local associations and not by the State.
47. The Special Rapporteur welcomes the political will shown by the Government to ensure the integration of disabled children in schools, as confirmed by its signature on 30 March 2007 of the recently adopted Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Special Rapporteur notes nevertheless that the low enrolment rate of disabled children and the need to introduce an inclusive education system, pursuant to the relevant provisions of the Convention and general comment No. 9 on the rights of children with disabilities,31 pose major challenges for Morocco. Inclusive education is supposed to replace the current system where special education is provided in a separate centre or else in an ordinary school in what are known as integrated classes, but which more often than not consist of disabled children only.