Adult and Youth Literacy (2013)

UIS Fact Sheet, September 2013 - No.26

This fact sheet presents literacy data as of September 2013 from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), which collects data on youth and adult literacy through its annual survey on literacy and educational attainment.

The UIS is the official source of data used to monitor education and literacy targets associated with Education for All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals. As part of the EFA goals, the international community pledged to improve adult literacy levels by 50 percent between 2000 and 2015.

While the number of illiterate persons has fallen over the past decade, 774 million adults, 64 percent of whom are women, still lack basic reading and writing skills. In 2011, the global adult literacy rate was 84.1percent, compared to 89.5 percent for youth.

The lowest literacy rates are observed in sub-Saharan Africa and in South and West Asia. However, the authors note that regional averages can mask disparities at the country level. For instance, in sub-Saharan Africa, the adult literacy rate ranges from 25 percent in Guinea to 94 percent in Equatorial Guinea.

The region of South and West Asia is home to 53 percent of the global illiterate population. In addition, 24 percent of all illiterate adults live in sub-Saharan Africa, 12 percent in East Asia and the Pacific, 6.2 percent in the Arab States and 4.6 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean.

As a projected date, by 2015 - the target year for Education for All and the Millennium Development Goal, two thirds of adults and three-quarters of youth in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to be able to read and write.

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APA citation
UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Adult and Youth Literacy 2013. Web. 28 Sep. 2022 <>
UNESCO Institute for Statistics (2013). Adult and Youth Literacy. Retrieved September 28, 2022, from
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