New literacy data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) indicate there are 758 million adults 15 years and older who still cannot read or write a simple sentence. Roughly two-thirds of them are female.
Since 2000, literacy among youth (aged 15 to 24 years) has risen steadily to 91% globally, thanks to better access to schooling and compulsory education in most countries. But in sub-Saharan African and South and West Asia, youth literacy rates are still just 71% and 84% respectively. For young women in sub-Saharan Africa, the rate remains dismally low at 65%.
With the new release, a new indicator was added to the UIS Data Centre to measure literacy among the population 25 to 64 years. According to UIS estimates, the literacy rate for men and women in this age group is a mere 16% in Niger and below 30% in Afghanistan, Guinea, Mali and South Sudan.
In combination with the youth literacy rate (15-24 years) and the elderly literacy rate (65+ years), this new indicator allows for comparison of three non-overlapping age groups, giving an indication of disparity between different cohorts and showing trends in literacy over time. Of the global illiterate population, 114 million are 15 to 24 years, 509 million are 25 to 64 years, and 135 million are 65 years and older.
To see the latest data, visit the UIS Data Centre.