10 Fast Facts About Literacy Around the World

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Blog - Literacy Day

Today is International Literacy Day! What better time to take a look at the impact of literacy? Our work in Guatemala is just a small step toward improving access to reading and writing skills for children and adults around the world. These skills are critical to succeeding in school and in life and are therefore among the first steps toward interrupting poverty. At Reading Village we are invested in increasing literacy levels not only because they are an end in and of themselves, but because they are a means to even more transformative ends like good health, economic stability, and political voice. Since 2007, your support has helped us bring literacy programming to thousands of children in Guatemala. Thank you for making that possible.

  1. The United States is ranked 28th in the world for highest literacy rates (99%). Guatemala is ranked 164th. [1]
  2. Literacy improves creative and critical thinking skills, informed decision making, personal empowerment, as well as civil and social participation. [2]
  3. 17% of the world’s adult population is not able to read or write. [3]
  4. Literacy skills build self-esteem. [4]
  5. 122 million youth around the world are illiterate, 60% of those youth are girls. [5]
  6. Around the world, youth literacy rates are higher than adult literacy rates reflecting increased access to education among younger generations. [6]
  7. Because literacy empowers individuals to take action, it has been shown to increase political participation which may lead to more stability and greater democratic opportunity. [7]
  8. A record breaking 85% of the global population is literate, but those who are not generally live in rural and low-income communities that are especially hard to reach with effective programs. [8]
  9. Literacy programs that utilize the local language can help preserve cultural diversity and empower people to participate in their own culture. [9]
  10. With more than 900 million adults and children still unable to read and write, we still have a long way to go. But the good news is, literacy rates are improving! [10]

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