Literacy Infographic


International Literacy Day Inforgraphic

In recent decades, society has made great progress in increasing literacy rates around the world; however, there is still work to do! Globally, nearly 773 million adults and youth lack basic literacy skills. We can do better! Check-out our literacy infographic to see where we've been, where we're going, and why literacy matters.

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Infographic Sources:

State of Literacy Around the World

  • 86% of people older than 15 years globally are literate (Our World in Data, CIA World Factbook).
  • Burkina Faso (38%), Niger (19%) and South Sudan (32%) are the countries with the lowest literacy (CIA World Factbook).
  • In 1820, only 12% of people globally could read and write; however, in 2016, only 14% of people globally remained illiterate. Over the last 65 years, the global literacy rate increased by 4% every 5 years (Our World in Data, OECD).
  • The literacy rate for young women is lower than the rate for young men, especially in poorer countries (Our World in Data, World Bank).
  • The global illiterate population of young girls is 61.9 percent. (UNESCO)
  • In nearly all countries, youth have higher literacy rates than the older generation (Our World in Data, World Bank).

Impact of Literacy 

  • Social Inequality
    • Improved literacy in early-industrialized countries helped to reduce intra-country inequality (Our World in Data).
    • Literacy empowers women to take control of their lives (Borgen Project).
    • Education fosters personal autonomy, creativity, and critical thinking skills, all of which boost economies and global communities alike (Borgen Project).
  • Economy
    • One year of education increases wage earnings by about 10 percent, and in sub-Saharan Africa, by up to 13 percent. (UNESCO)
    • Literacy reduces poverty and stabilizes the economies of developing nations. Conversely, illiteracy costs the world about $1.19 trillion every year (Borgen Project).
    • Global society recoups $7.14 for every $1 invested in adult literacy (Literacy Worldwide, Literacy Partners).
    • No country has achieved continuous and rapid economic growth without at least 40% of adults being able to read and write (Literacy Worldwide, Oxfam).
  • Health
  • Crime
  • Poverty Alleviation
    • Increasing the years of schooling among adults by two years would help lift nearly 60 million people out of poverty (United Nations Global Education Monitoring Report).