Why focus on literacy?

Why Focus on Literacy?

The literacy challenge is a global one, stretching from the United States to Uganda, from the United Kingdom to Cambodia and everywhere in between. It matters because the inability to read and write is often connected with other issues. People who struggle with literacy are more likely to live in poverty, lack education, drop out of school, have difficulty finding employment, and miss out on opportunities to participate fully in society and the workforce.


Over 750 million people can’t read this sentence.

A global crisis:

Over 750 million people can’t read this sentence.

1 in 10 people globally are unable to read and write – more than the population of Europe.

The scale:

1 in 10 people globally are unable to read and write – more than the population of Europe.

women are impacted by illiteracy more than men. Out of 750 million people unable to read and write, 479 million, or two-thirds, are women. (UN 2015)

Gender inequality:

Women are impacted by illiteracy more than men. Out of 750 million people unable to read and write, 479 million, or two-thirds, are women.

123 million 15-24 year olds cannot read.

Youth literacy:

123 million 15-24 year olds cannot read.

32 million adults in the United States cannot read.

Adult literacy:

32 million adults in the United States cannot read.

$1.19 trillion: The cost of illiteracy to the world economy each year. (World Literacy Foundation)

The global cost:

The cost of illiteracy to the world economy each year is $1.19 trillion

Every year illiteracy costs a developed nation 2% GDP, an emerging economy 1.2% GDP, and a developing country 0.5% GDP.

Every year:

illiteracy costs a developed nation 2% GDP, an emerging economy 1.2% GDP, and a developing country 0.5% GDP.

Mary's Story

Mary's Story

It's one thing to see the numbers of people who are unable to read and write, but meeting a person who has personally struggled with literacy makes the issue real. Just a few years ago, Mary had difficulty paying her bills and ended up in the hospital after struggling to read the instructions on her medicine. Thanks to Mary's courage and the partnership of an incredible tutor at Literacy Action, she has renewed confidence and independence.

Illiteracy in infographics

Study these infographics to learn more about individual themes and the global repercussions of illiteracy.

You may be surprised by some of the global issues that poor literacy is linked to. Read our infographics about Attitudes, Approaches, & Action.

Anna

Anna is at an advantage, she's literate…




Read more
Infographic: Cost

Cost

Counting the cost of illiteracy




Read more
Infographic: People

People

You won't believe how many people can’t read this sentence




Read more
Infographic: Paradigm shift

Paradigm shift

How digital literacy is changing everything




Read more