page picture
headling iconStatistics

There is an increasing awareness, and increasing evidence, that a literate population is a basic precondition for the social and economic progress of society, for democracy, and for the reduction of poverty. According to UNESCO, illiteracy affects nearly one billion people around the world. The majority of the marginalized population are those with learning difficulties. If we take only dyslexia into account, this condition affects 10 % of the worldwide population, that is 700 million people.

Without the appropriate teaching dyslexic people need to be able to read and write, they risk life-long illiteracy and inability to function fully in society. The academic and psychological consequences of unaddressed dyslexia are devastating for all concerned. They are a prime cause of  school drop-out, marginalization and social exclusion. Studies show that dyslexic people are over-represented in prisons, among adolescents who commit suicide, and among people suffering from mental illnesses, including depression. This huge drain on the economy is now well-documented.

We list sources which provide literacy statistics for various countries. These statistics confirm the notion that higher illiteracy levels prevent social and economic progress, and increase poverty. 

  • The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) has developed a series of country (and regional) profiles presenting key indicators on education, literacy and science and technology. To access the webpage which allows you to get information on the literacy rates (young and adults) of some of the member states of UNESCO, click here, select the country on the webpage and then click on 'education'.
  • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has developed a Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Every three years, it assesses, in the principal industrialised countries, to what extent students near the end of compulsory education (15-year-olds) have acquired some of the knowledge and skills essential for full participation in society. To access the results from the most recent PISA survey (2009), click here.