771 million people worldwide are illiterate

Worldwide, 771 million people, two-thirds of whom are women, are still illiterate. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization According to (UNESCO) data, the literacy rate has increased significantly in the last 50 years, especially among the young population around the world. However, despite this progress, 771 million adults worldwide were illiterate in 2020. Two-thirds of this number are women.


UNESCO Institute of StatisticsThe data published by ‘s point to an improvement in literacy rate in recent years.

Statistics reveal that the worldwide literacy rate over the age of 15 rose to 74 percent in 1990, 81 percent in 2000, 84 percent in 2010 and 87 percent in 2020.


Data shows that wars around the world have negatively impacted student enrollment rates.

Accordingly, millions of people had to leave their homes due to the wars in Afghanistan, Yemen and Ukraine.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 700,000 people have had to leave their homes in Afghanistan this year, and about 5.5 million in recent years. In Ukraine, 7.1 million people affected by the war left their homes, more than 2,000 schools were damaged and more than 200 schools were destroyed.

It was emphasized that all these figures directly affect the students in the learning process.

In the published research, negative results due to Kovid-19 were also included. Accordingly, it is estimated that 24 million people whose education process is disrupted will not be able to return to the education process. It is predicted that 11 million of these people will be girls and young girls.


Data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics reveal low literacy rates, particularly in African and South Asian countries.

Accordingly, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest illiteracy rate in the world at 34 percent.

The illiteracy rate is 27 percent in South Asian countries, 1 percent in European countries, and 6 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Low school attendance also negatively affects the literacy rate. The participation rate of children and youth in educational activities in Sub-Saharan African countries is quite low.

At least one out of every 5 children between the ages of 6 and 11 in countries on the African continent is out of school. For those between the ages of 12 and 14, this rate is one out of every three children.


It is noteworthy that the number of women literate around the world is lower than that of men. According to recent data, young women make up 59 percent of illiterate people.

The gender gap in literacy rates is greater in North Africa, West and South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, while the gender gap in literacy is small in Central and East Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.

In countries with the lowest literacy rate, girls are more disadvantaged than boys. In Sub-Saharan African countries, approximately 9 million girls between the ages of 6 and 11 are deprived of education, while this number is around 6 million for boys.

Statistics reveal that the literacy rate of women aged 15 and over is quite low in these regions. According to this, the countries with the lowest number of women over the age of 15 are; Afghanistan (37%), Chad (22%), Mali (31%) and South Sudan (35%).


In 1967, UNESCO decided to celebrate 8 September as World Literacy Day. Various activities are organized in order to emphasize the importance of literacy of individuals and societies and to raise awareness about the problems on the subject, on World Reading Day, which is celebrated on September 8 every year.

This year’s World Literacy Day is celebrated around the world under the theme “Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces”. In line with this year’s goals, UNESCO aims to create an opportunity to rethink the fundamental importance of literacy learning spaces to ensure quality, equitable and inclusive education for all.

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