Why focus on literacy?

The literacy challenge is a global problem, stretching from the United States to Uganda, from Europe to Cambodia and everywhere in between. It matters because the inability to read and write quickly leads to big problems. People struggling with literacy are more likely to be poor, lack education, and miss out on opportunities to participate fully in society and the workforce

- Today, over 750 million people cannot read this sentence.

- 1 in 10 people in the world remain illiterate. That's more than the population of Europe.

- Two-thirds of the illiterate population are women.

- 123 million 15-24 year olds in the world today cannot read.

- 32 million adults in the United States cannot read.

- Illiteracy costs the world $1.19 trillion every year.

- Each year, illiteracy costs a developed nation 2% of its GDP, an emerging economy 1.2% of GDP, and a developing country 0.5% of GDP.


Alphabet of Illiteracy

We created the Alphabet of Illiteracy to demonstrate the impacts of illiteracy in a dynamic and memorable way.

Click on the link to explore it. You may be surprised at some of the things that poor literacy is linked to. You’ll certainly be shocked by the scale of the challenge we face.


Literacy infographics

You can also explore each of these infographics to learn more about individual themes and the global repercussions of illiteracy.

What are we doing to tackle illiteracy?

There is a vast number of literacy programs and organizations working tirelessly across the globe to tackle this enormous challenge. Many of them are reporting remarkable successes.

Project Literacy is a new movement, initiated by Pearson, that brings together many of these organizations. The idea is for us to work together to make the most of our collective resources, knowledge and experience. We’ll share ideas, focus efforts and do everything we can to spread the power of words. Working alone, we can only ever make a small difference. But together, there’s no limit to what we can achieve.
Project Literacy and its partners are also represented in the UNESCO Global Alliance for Literacy. Literacy has been one of UNESCO’s core mandates ever since it was founded. In September 2015 UNESCO was asked by the UN General Assembly to play a coordinating and catalyzing role in advancing literacy as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, which led to the creation of the Global Alliance for Literacy.

Learn more about Project Literacy