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Illiterate Population

Despite the steady rise in literacy rates over the past 50 years, there are still 750 million illiterate adults around the world, most of whom are women. These numbers produced by the UIS are a stark reminder of the work ahead to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially Target 4.6 to ensure that all youth and most adults achieve literacy and numeracy by 2030.

Current literacy data are generally collected through population censuses or household surveys in which the respondent or head of the household declares whether they can read and write with understanding a short, simple statement about one's everyday life in any written language. Some surveys require respondents to take a quick test in which they are asked to read a simple passage or write a sentence, yet clearly literacy is a far more complex issue that requires more information.

For the UIS, the existing dataset serves as a placeholder for a new generation of indicators being developed with countries and partners under the umbrella of the Global Alliance to Monitor Learning (GAML).

GAML is developing the methodologies needed to gather more nuanced data and the tools required for their standardisation. In particular, the Alliance is finding ways to link existing large-scale assessments to produce comparable data to monitor the literacy skills of children, youth and adults. This involves close collaboration with a wide range of partners.

Data Resources (1)

Data Resource Preview - Illiterate Population

Additional Info

Field Value
Dataset topic category
  • Access to education
  • SDG4 Quality Education
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • English
Use limitations You are free to: Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.
Dataset reference date March 8, 2018
Temporal extent's start date May 28, 2011
  • Cambodia
  • Lao People's Democratic Republic
  • Myanmar
  • Thailand
  • Viet Nam
Completeness Some data for some years and countries unavailable, indicated by ".."
Process Step Please refer to:!/info/methodology for a full methodology statement.
Responsible party UNESCO Institute for Statistics Requests for UIS data:
Metadata creator information Literacy: July 2017 release
Attributes Legend: + National Estimation n Magnitude nil or negligible ‡ UIS Estimation
License CC-BY-3.0-IGO
Copyright No
Version 2017
Keywords education,literacy
Date uploaded March 8, 2018, 09:43 (UTC)
Date modified March 9, 2018, 04:31 (UTC)