8 Facts: Adult Literacy Rates
Adult literacy rates have been improving year on year since the 1950s.
December 10, 2014
1. The global literacy rate for adults is 84%, according to UNESCO data.
2. This means that there are 781 million adults worldwide — or about one in every ten people on the planet — who cannot read or write a simple message.
3. In percentage terms, however, the global literacy rate has increased dramatically over the last several decades — from 56% in 1950 to 76% in 1990.
4. Progress since 2000, when the global literacy rate was 82%, has been relatively slow.
5. Much of the recent progress has come in South and West Asia, where since 1990 the adult literacy rate has increased from 47% to 63%.
6. For South and West Asia’s young people, the gains have been even greater — from 61% to 81%.
7. About 597 million of the world’s illiterate population live in Sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia. That is 76% of all the illiterate people in the world.
Ten of the 11 countries in the world with adult literacy rates of less than 50% are in Sub-Saharan Africa. This underscores the region’s dire lack of economic development and educational resources. Haiti is the one outside of Africa.
Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics with analysis by The Globalist Research Center.