Literacy is thought to be one of the primary cultural transmitters of information and beliefs within any society where it exists. Yet, when considered as a social phenomenon, literacy is remarkably difficult to define, because its functions, meanings, and methods of learning vary from one cultural group to the next. This book compares and contrasts our understanding of literacy and its acquisition and retention. It addresses major debates in education policy today, such as the importance of "mother-tongue" literacy programs, the notion of literacy "relapse," and the concept of educational poverty. The author focuses on Moroccan children whose parents are unschooled, whose language is often different from that used in the classroom, and whose first instruction often involves rote religious instruction.
"...represents an elegant weaving of ethnographic fieldwork with standard psychometric techniques of cross-cultural methodology within an analysis of traditional and emerging contexts of literal practice in Moroccan society. Interesting historical descriptions, detailed research procedures and well supported conclusions make this work well worth reading...a good cookbook with many recipes from which we can benefit as we work toward a global understanding of literacy development." Richard Ricard, Mind, Culture, and Activity