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Composing EgyptReading, Writing, and the Emergence of a Modern Nation, 1870-1930$
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Hoda A. Yousef

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780804797115

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804797115.001.0001

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Literacy for All

Literacy for All

Ummiyya, Arabic, and the Public Good

Chapter:
(p.129) 5 Literacy for All
Source:
Composing Egypt
Author(s):

Hoda A. Yousef

Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804797115.003.0007

This chapter explores the impact and implications of public literacies, particularly as the concept of illiteracyevolved from a term with positive connotations to one associated with social backwardness and underdevelopment. Specifically, apprehension about illiteracy as an important measure of social progress found expression and visibility in publicized census literacy rates that depreciated “alternative” literacies in favor of a defined and measurable skill. This change was strikingly manifested in the growing concerns of the 1920s about the social danger of illiteracy and in the first real government attempt to eradicate illiteracy from the population. By 1924, basic education was enshrined as an aspiration of the first Egyptian Constitution and the groundwork for a true mass educational system was laid. However, this narrow, utilitarian, and measurable definition of literacy also created exclusions for blind students, those who used the Egyptian colloquial, and other Egyptians who were not conventionally “literate.”

Keywords:   illiteracy, mass education, blindness, educational policy, Egyptian colloquial, modern standard Arabic, census, literacy rates

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