757 million adults are illiterate1

That’s more than the population of Europe, or 1 in every 10 people alive today2

And it's not always where you might think


In the U.S. 32 million Americans can't read and write3

That’s more than 1 in 104

Tackling poor literacy can open up a world or opportunity

The vicious cycle of illiteracy

Inability to access learning
Children less likely to be literateMore likey to experience poverty
Social and economic strife

The vicious cycle of literacy

Access to learning
Children more likely to be literateSocial and economic progress
Increased likelihood of a higher income

We’ve made great strides

  • Literacy (as part of basic education) was recognised as a human right over 50 years ago, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights5

  • Public spending on education increased on an average by 2.7% a year from 1999 to 20106

  • Since 1990, the average number of years of schooling globally has risen by two7

And, today, young people are more likely to be literate than their parents8

But progress is slowing…

…illiteracy has fallen globally by12%since 19909
but only a1%fall since 200010


  1. http://unesco.nl/sites/default/files/dossier/gmr_2013-4.pdf
  2. http://unesco.nl/sites/default/files/dossier/gmr_2013-4.pdf
  3. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002274/227436e.pdf
  4. https://itunews.itu.int/en/3741-Mobile-subscriptions-near-the-78209billion-markbrDoes-almost-everyone-have-a-phone.note.aspx
  5. http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/material/FactsFigures2010.pdf
  6. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002164/216451e.pdf
  7. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002274/227436e.pdf
  8. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002274/227436e.pdf
  9. http://www.gsmamobileeconomy.com/GSMA%20Mobile%20Economy%202013.pdf
  10. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002274/227436e.pdf
  11. http://www.longfinance.net/images/reports/pdf/baml_education_2013.pdf
  12. http://www.code.org
  13. http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/05/12/teaching-code-in-the-classroom/teach-coding-to-girls-before-negative-stereotyping-starts