New Age Islam
Mon Jun 17 2024, 05:47 AM

Islamic Society ( 12 Jun 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

Arab Children and Youth: a Widespread Phenomenon of Illiteracy and Unemployment


By Nadia Cheniouni, New Age Islam


(Translated from Arabic by Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam)

12 June, 2014

Amid repeated calls by international anti-child-labour bodies and organisations including the International Labour Organisation, the phenomenon of child labour is widespread in both the developing and industrialised countries alike. Although it is found in abundance in economically poor countries, the aggravation of child labour in the third world countries in particular is one of the most disturbing developments in the region. The citizens of the third world are suffering from abysmal decline in the standard of living which impacts on very negatively the educational temperament, thus leading to a terrible rate of illiteracy.

The Tunisia-based organisation ALECSO (The Arab Organisation for Education, Science and Culture) commemorated the Arab Literacy Day stating that "the Human Development Reports for 2013 and the Global Monitoring Report on Education for All for 2012 indicate that among the Arab population which amounted to 353, 8 million people; only 256,946 million were familiar with reading and writing, which means that nearly 96,836 million are illiterate. This means that the illiteracy rate in the Arab world has increased to 19.73 percent of the total population, whereas the percentage of female illiterates has amounted to 60.60 percent compared to 39.42 percent male illiterates. According to the statistics of the ALECSO, Egypt occupies the first rank in terms of the number of illiterates, by virtue of the high population density, followed by Sudan, Algeria, Morocco and Yemen. These five countries altogether constitute 75 percent of the illiterate populations in the Arab countries. The ALESCO report warned that nearly 6,188 million boys and girls who are at school age are not enrolled in any sort of education, which means that illiteracy rate in Arab countries will increase with a great pace in times to come. Moreover, the organisation warned that the dropout rate during primary levels of education in the Arab schools is among the highest ratios in the world.

There is no denying the fact that the negligence towards educating children and depriving them from a basic human right enshrined in the very first chapter of the holy Qur’an (Surah al-Alaq) is prevalent in the Arab countries. This is a deplorable immoral attitude towards the essential Islamic edicts which are generally violated in the most parts of the Arab world. And this is precisely what resulted into the abysmally deteriorating conditions of Arab children thrown to labour at a very early age. These children are physically exploited, psychologically dumped and intellectually shackled in the Arab nations. To a large extent, poverty and worsening standard of living are the major causes behind the growth of child labour in the Arab countries. Moreover, there is growing culture of ‘love for ignorance’ in some families which believe that education will bear no fruit for them in their life and career. The obsolete and disintegrated education system in the Arab schools also causes disdain for education which ultimately leads to rise in the illiteracy rate and child labour. This paves the way for many who don’t have humane conscience and sympathy for the innocent children to exploit them by employing and tasking them with strenuous works beyond their physical and mental capacity.              

To my view, theses savages are no different from the children’s parents who start exploiting them by putting financial strains on their weak and fragile shoulders even before they reach a very young and innocent age of 6 or 7. They hand them over to rapacious employers in order to transform them from young, innocent and carefree kids into serious and sadist slaves who strictly adhere to the owner’s stern orders. By doing so, the innocent children have to fulfil the financial and material needs of their parents, without the least care for their own physical inability, unsound psychological condition and a dark career and future awaiting them ahead. Given this pathetic plight of the Arab children, the question arises: who will be held responsible for their illiteracy and unemployment in the future? Their parents who were supposed to provide them with noble standard of life and prevent them from the menace of child labour and illiteracy or the government which should have felt impelled to ensure a decent life for them?  

Nadia Cheniouni is a TV presenter based in Algeria. She has contributed this article to New Age Islam.


URL for Arabic article:,-new-age-islam/the-widespread-phenomenon-of-child-labour-is-the-reason-behind-the-rampant-scourge-of-arab-illiteracy--مستقبل-أطفال-العرب-بين-العمالة-والأمية--ظاهرة-عمالة-الأطفال-وراء-استفحال-آفة-الجهل/d/87466