The role played by instructors in the performance of literacy programmes in Morocco

From left to right:

Laila Bouzarra
Cadi Ayyad University, Morocco

Monia Alazali
Cadi Ayyad University, Morocco

Mohammed Bougroum
Cadi Ayyad University, Morocco

Abstract – An empirical analysis conducted in Morocco, based on original longitudinal data obtained from a survey conducted in the city of Marrakesh, showed that the performance of literacy programmes is substantially influenced by the instructor’s professional qualities and by his or her recruitment conditions (university degree, vocational training and amount of remuneration). This study helps improve the choice of criteria used to define the appropriate profile of a literacy teacher.

There are nearly 781 million illiterate adults in the world. 8.6 million Moroccans, or nearly a third of the Kingdom’s adult population, are still illiterate (HCP 2014). The illiteracy rate in Morocco is 32%, with an alarming prevalence in the illiteracy rate in rural areas (47.7%) when compared to urban areas (22.2%), and among women (41.9%) when compared to men (22.1%) (HCP 2014).

These figures reveal that illiteracy is a major obstacle to the country’s development. Paradoxically, there are very few or virtually no studies on adult literacy and on the performance determinants of the programmes implemented in the Moroccan context, although the diversity of stakeholders, organisational methods, teaching conditions and populations targeted by adult literacy activities makes it necessary to reflect on this strategic segment of the education and training system.

In educational economics, most theoretical and empirical studies on the performance of the education system focus on formal education. These studies mostly aim to evaluate the effects of a number of factors related to the organisation of the school context on pupils’ learning, with a view to defining the most effective political and pedagogical measures to maintain a functional education system.

This article looks closer at the instructor and his or her role in the effectiveness of adult literacy programmes in Morocco, in order to analyse their characteristics and main challenges. To enable you get an idea of the context, we will now draw up a brief outline of policy on literacy in Morocco and the role played by literacy teachers in this policy.

Morocco’s National Literacy Strategy

In 2000, the authorities adopted the National Charter on Education and Training (CNEF). Developed and adopted along participatory and consensual lines, the CNEF is intended to serve as a roadmap for the structural reform of the entire education and training system in order to meet the challenges posed in terms of access and quality. The CNEF has made it possible to position adult literacy as a priority of public policy, and more particularly of educational policy.

In order to lend concrete expression to this political commitment towards adult literacy, the authorities have adopted a national strategy for literacy and non-formal education. Developed in 2004 and revised in 2009, this strategy sought, in terms of its objectives, to reduce the illiteracy rate to 20% by 2011 and to 10% by 2026.

The implementation of the CNEF and of the National Literacy Strategy has enabled the authorities to substantially increase capacities to provide literacy services by diversifying programmes and operators. The literacy programmes on offer are now to be structured into four programmes: (i) the general programme; (ii) public operators’ programmes; (iii) the NGO programme, and (iv) the private sector programme targeting enterprises.

The place of the literacy teacher

The heads of the department in charge of literacy, the service-providers, researchers and beneficiaries, are increasingly convinced that, more than logistics and material resources, it is the value of the human resources which are directly involved in the implementation of literacy programmes that is decisive for their success (Boukous, Agnaou 2000: 55). It is in this perspective that the national literacy strategy in Morocco stresses the profile of those who are responsible for training illiterate individuals.

To be recruited, these instructors must be native to the same region as the adult learners who they are supervising, or must have at least a thorough knowledge of the dialect, traditions, customs, habits and culture of the region in question. This builds trust between those undergoing literacy training and the literacy teacher, and supports affinity between them.

Given the importance of the training aspect, the National Agency Against Illiteracy (ANLCA) opted for targeted functional training that is better adapted to the situation on the ground, thus enabling instructors to acquire new knowledge in andragogy, improve their facilitation skills, plan and manage their courses, and finally assess learners’ achievements.

This training was also designed for train-the-trainers or literacy teachers and programme designers. Its objective is to train them so that they are able to develop and publish manuals and works of reference as needed, especially when it comes to functional literacy in the workplace. This makes it possible to broaden the notion of learning situations on the basis of which sectoral programmes must be designed (DLCA 2012: 44).

The actual choices available in terms of criteria and conditions for this planning are indicative of the aspects that the actors with the system, and the decision-makers, consider necessary in order for adult literacy programmes to function properly. Nevertheless, these choices lack mechanisms to justify them, thus making it difficult for decision-makers to judge whether the development of literacy policies is having the desired effect, and whether things are actually improving, or in fact getting worse (UNESCO 2004).

This is where our research comes into play.

The role of the literacy teacher

Our study aims to analyse the role of the literacy teacher in adult literacy programmes in order to identify the criteria and characteristics that an instructor profile should have in order to enable these programmes to achieve better internal performance and efficiency.

The choice of variables that can measure the level of performance and degree of success achieved in such programmes mainly depends on the approach that is adopted. Knowledge can be either declarative or procedural (satisfaction, specific knowledge, know-how, etc.). In this article, the concept of performance refers to the beneficiaries’ actual achievements, measured by their scores in reading, writing and arithmetic, during and at the end of these programmes.

To do this, we used data derived from a survey conducted as part of a study on the determinants of the quality of literacy programmes in Morocco. This study was carried out in 2007-2008 by our research team in social and solidarity economics (ERESS) at Cadi Ayyad University as part of a research partnership between the Anti-Illiteracy Department of the Ministry of National Education (DLCA) and UNESCO (Maghreb Office).

This study consists of monitoring a representative sample made up of the population of beneficiaries of literacy programmes in the city of Marrakesh. This sample is made up of 1,619 learners supervised by61 instructors and spread over all four literacy programmes. All the learners were subjected to a socio-demographic questionnaire applied at the beginning of the literacy process, and to three literacy skills measurement tests1, administered at three stages of the literacy process (early, mid- and late in the programme).

Information was also collected on the instructors and the conditions under which they work (personal and professional characteristics, experience, motivation, training, recruitment, educational tools, etc.).

The data were used in two stages. First, an analysis of variance (ANOVA) helped identify the variables that have some impact on the improvement of beneficiaries’ learning outcomes. Secondly, multi-level modelling helps to explicitly analyse the role of the instructor and the effects of his or her qualities on improving the performance of literacy programmes in Morocco2.

Results of the analysis of variance (ANOVA)

The analysis of variance (ANOVA) is a statistical model that is used to compare sample means on the basis of the Fisher test, and is therefore based on the normality of the distributions and the independence of the samples. It enables the behaviour of a quantitative variable to be studied and explained as a function of one or more categorical dummy variables.

In this article, the quantitative variable to be explained refers to the beneficiaries’ final scores, whilst the explanatory dummy variables are related to the different dimensions that are expected to influence the effectiveness of a training programme. These are the qualities of beneficiaries and instructors, and those related to working conditions.

How learners’ characteristics influence their performance

The ANOVA test indicates that the beneficiaries’ final average scores differ substantially from one beneficiary profile to another (with regard to their gender, age, professional activity, marital status, previous experience) and whether or not they receive materials. It seems that, in relation to each of these variables, the profiles with higher scores than the others are: women; beneficiaries aged 25 and under; manual workers and craftspeople; single people; beneficiaries who attended public schools in their childhood, and beneficiaries who received the manual and other materials. On the other hand, the ANOVA test is not meaningful with regard to the beneficiaries’ place of residence and their mother tongue. This means that these variables have little influence on the beneficiaries’ level of achievement.

By also applying the analysis of variance to the characteristics of beneficiaries’ households, we see that the final result score does not vary according to the conditions of these variables, in particular the size of the household, whether or not there are children attending school within the household, the household’s connection to water and electricity networks or the availability of a computer.

The influence of the instructors’ qualities on learners’ performance

With regard to the instructors’ personal qualities, we note that the gender of the instructor does not affect the beneficiaries’ final score. On the other hand, belonging to an age group can have an impact: instructors aged between 25 and 30 demonstrate the most significant improvements.

Depending on the qualification acquired by the instructors and the subject that they had studied, the average final scores vary significantly, depending on the conditions of these two variables. In fact, the most significant differences can be found among instructors with a very high level of university education (Master’s degree) in a literary subject.

The ANOVA test shows that, for the variables related to instructor experience and administrative status, the final score varies according to the conditions of each of these variables. Indeed, the highest score is recorded by instructors who have more than six years’ seniority and who have no formal commitment to the operator.

Similarly, the recruitment method and the main reasons why the instructor works in this profession are also elements that have a significant influence on the final score. The ANOVA test is not meaningful for the variable of the amount of training. Having said that, significant differences were found depending on the duration of the training, since the instructors with the highest number of training courses are those for whom the greatest difference is recorded. In addition, compared to longer durations, the most cost-effective training duration seems to be between five and ten days.

In addition, the ANOVA test is meaningful for the variables related to the instructor’s pace and manner of proceeding, since we note that the instructors who work the most are those whose performance is better in terms of improving the beneficiaries’ achievements. The same applies to those who give homework to beneficiaries or who write reports. For the other variables (performance of another function by the instructor, receiving visits from supervisors and number of visits received), ANOVA’s tests show that the results obtained by the beneficiaries on the final score do not vary depending on the modalities of these variables.

We also observed that the ANOVA test is highly significant for the variables related to the “remuneration of trainers”. Trainers who work on a pro bono basis (with a symbolic compensation of less than MAD 1,800 per year), and salaried trainers receiving a salary higher than or equal to MAD 18,000 per year, have am impact on the final score achieved by their beneficiaries which is both positive and significant.

In addition, beneficiaries who use the manuals (made available by DLCA or any other operator) seem to perform better. On the other hand, the ANOVA test for the variable use of other learning materials is not meaningful.

Multi-level analysis

The results of the analysis of variance (ANOVA) show that, as in formal education, several variables can influence learners’ outcomes in adult literacy programmes. Nevertheless, if one wishes to demonstrate the share that is attributable to the instructor’s role, it is necessary to monitor the impact exerted by other factors, and to determine the share of the variations observed in the learners’ final scores that is attributable to this set of factors, as well as the share that is related more specifically to the instructors’ own characteristics.

To do this, we use multi-level models. These are adapted to data with a hierarchical structure, and make it possible to model differences not only between micro-units (beneficiaries), but also between macro-units (classes and/or instructors) (Paterson, Goldstein 1991). The analysis is therefore carried out each time by fixing one aspect in order to understand the effect of the other. Multi-level modelling is carried out in several stages. The first stage involves estimating a so-called empty model (Model 1) that does not take any explanatory variables into account. This model can be used to determine the relative variance at each of the levels considered in order to identify the extent to which it would be appropriate to adopt a hierarchical structure in the modelling of the effects. Subsequently, it is a question of introducing, stage by stage, the characteristics of the beneficiaries (Model 2) and those of the instructors (Model 3), after which all these variables will finally be integrated into a “complete model”, thus producing the final results of this multi-level model (Model 4).

The “instructor effect”

The results of the model estimation show that 66.2% of the variance in the learners’ score on the final literacy test is attributable to the qualities of the beneficiaries, whereas 33.8% of the variance in these scores is attributable to the qualities of the instructors.

The latter proportion, comparable to the share of interclass variance reported in the results obtained from the teacher effect in primary and other types of formal education, is considered to be important, and provides a major incentive to introduce explanatory variables within a hierarchical structure.

Main results and discussion

In Model 2, it is noted that among the fourteen variables that are integrated into the model, six have a statistically significant effect on the beneficiaries’ performance. This is the initial score of learners, their gender, age, employment status, marital status and educational background. The results of this model reveal that these individual variables explain 21.54% of the intra-group variance (66.2%) and 25.53% of the 33.8% intergroup variance. By introducing the characteristics relating to the instructor into Model 3, in particular gender, age, qualification, subject studied, experience, duration of teacher training, remuneration and teaching methods used, those related to the instructors’ experience and university and professional training are meaningful. This model explains 49.25% of the 33.8% interclass variance and 27.88% of the intraclass variance.

Finally, Model 4 integrates all relevant variables into the analysis in order to create a complete model. Consequently, by examining the fixed effects of these variables, we can see that among all the integrated instructor characteristics and those selected as significant according to Model 3, only the effects of the qualification gained, the duration of the second vocational training, and remuneration, continue to be meaningful.

1. The effect of the qualification gained

From a quantitative perspective, university education is a criterion for assessing the degree of instructors’ qualification. Qualified instructors are therefore generally defined as those who have completed long-term university studies. Learners supported by instructors with a level of training below the baccalaureate achieve significantly lower performance compared to those who are supervised by more highly-qualified instructors. This should encourage the teacher to undergo further training that will enable him or her to acquire the theoretical and practical knowledge necessary to master the content of the subjects to be taught to students and enable them to learn more easily.

2. The effect of the duration of vocational training

Two types of professional training can be distinguished: initial training attended before starting a career, and in-service training from which the instructor benefits in parallel to his or her role as a literacy instructor. Our empirical analysis reveals that only the continuous training of instructors has a significant effect on the improvement of beneficiaries’ skills. The results further reveal that, compared to long-term continuing education (>10 days), short-term continuing education (between one and five days) is more effective when it comes to improving the internal performance of literacy programmes.

3. The effect of remuneration

The results of our modelling show that the variable that relates to the amounts of compensation paid to instructors is also decisive insofar as a significantly negative effect of the compensation paid to instructors on the improvement of beneficiaries’ achievements is proven when the amount of this compensation is less than MAD 6,000 per year (less than USD 540 per year).


Being aware of the importance of the role taken by instructors for improving the performance of its literacy programmes, Morocco has defined certain criteria and conditions in its national literacy strategy concerning the instructor’s profile. The results of our analysis of the effects of instructor characteristics on the performance of literacy programmes are in line with the vision of the national literacy strategy, particularly with regard to the requirements for the instructor to have attained university degree level and the supervision of the instructor through short-term in-service training. Our study also shed light on the importance attached to the amount of compensation that instructors receive with regard to the internal performance of literacy programmes in Morocco.

All in all, our study confirmed the trainer’s pivotal role as a lever for improving the performance of literacy programmes, as well as identifying the main variables that must be addressed in order to make the instructor a lever for the performance achieved by these programmes. These variables refer to the level of initial training, short-term on-the-job training opportunities, and pay conditions. This is a necessary precondition for ensuring that literacy programmes are on course to improve their performance, something which is necessary in order to be in line with the political objectives that were set out in the National Charter on Education and Training and the National Literacy Strategy.


1 / Literacy skills refer here to the learning outcomes of beneficiaries after they have completed the literacy programme.

2 /  The performance of the programmes is measured by the level of beneficiaries’ achievements (test scores achieved).


Boukous, A. ; Agnaou, F. (2000): Alphabétisation et développement durable au Maroc. Rabat : faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines.

DLCA (2008): Tendances récentes et situation actuelle de l’éducation et de la formation des adultes. Rapport national pour le Royaume du Maroc à la CONFINTEA VI.

DLCA (2012): Alphabétisation au Maroc. Bilan 2007–2012: Pour une participation de tous dans la société. Maroc : ministère de l’Éducation nationale.

Haut Commissariat au Plan (HCP) (2014): Direction de  la Statistique, RGPH 2014 et Enquête nationale sur l'emploi. 

Paterson, L.; Goldstein, H. (1991): New Statistical Methods for Analysing Social Structures: an introduction to multilevel models. In: British Educational Research Journal, 17 (4), 387-393.

UNESCO (2004): Programme d’évaluation et de suivi de l’alphabétisation (LAMP). Rapport international de planification, p. 1. Montréal : ISU.

Further reading

Alazali, M.  (2018): Demande, effets et impact des programmes d’alphabétisation au Maroc: Analyse quantitative selon la perspective des bénéficiaires. Morocco: Cadi Ayyad University.

Ait Daoud, L. (2016):Éducation des adultes au Maroc: Analyse statistique et économétriques des déterminants de la qualité des programmes d’alphabétisation. Doctoral thesis, Economics. Morocco: Cadi Ayyad University.

Arrègle, J-L. (2003): Les modèles linéaires hiérarchiques : principes et illustration. In: Journal of Management, 6 (1), 1-28.

Bougroum, M.; Oujour, H.; Kissami, M. A. (2005): Étude de pays: Des options réelles pour les politiques et les pratiques – le Maroc. Document de référence préparé pour le Rapport mondial de suivi sur l’Éducation Pour Tous 2006. UNESCO.

Dolton, P.; Marcanero-Gutierrez, O. (2011): If you pay peanuts do you get monkeys? A cross country analysis of teacher pay and pupil performance. In: Economic Policy, 26 (65).

Ouane, A. (1984): Alphabétisation et formation des formateurs: L’expérience de l’Afrique francophone. In: Revue Internationale de l’Education, 30 (3). Adult Education in a Rapidly Changing World (1984), 341.

Rapport mondial de suivi sur l’EPT (2006): L’alphabétisation un enjeu vital. Paris: UNESCO.

About the authors

Laila Bouzarra holds a PhD in Economics from Cadi Ayyad University (Marrakesh, Morocco). Her thesis was entitled: Analysing the role of the instructor in literacy programmes in Morocco: a multi-level analysis. She is a researcher in educational sciences and a member of the research group in social and solidarity economics at Cadi Ayyad University (Marrakesh).

Monia Alazali holds a PhD in Economics from Cadi Ayyad University (Marrakesh, Morocco). Her thesis was entitled: Demand, effects and impact of literacy programmes in Morocco: a quantitative analysis of the beneficiaries’ perspective. She is a young specialist in education and quantitative techniques. Monia Alazali is a teacher and researcher at the Poly-disciplinary Faculty of Safi, Cadi Ayyad University (Morocco).

Mohammed Bougroum is a professor of Economics at Cadi Ayyad University (Marrakesh, Morocco) and an associate researcher at the Laboratory of Economics and Sociology of Labour (LEST, University of Aix-Marseille). He specialises in labour market, educational and social economic issues.

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