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Focus on education

To celebrate International Literacy Day, we're looking at the causes and consequences of illiteracy for individuals and our global society. Here, you can find a host of resources examining key aspects of illiteracy around the world. Get stuck in to our focus pieces for an in-depth exploration, join the debate by reading our blog, or take a look at our graphics for an enlightening overview...

Mother with children776 million people around the world cannot read or write. Of the world's illiterate adults, 75% are confined to just 10 countries, and 40% are found in India alone. Here, 287 million grown-ups are illiterate - nearly the entire population of the United States.

The causes of illiteracy are myriad. Early marriage, child labour, poverty - these are all well-known barriers to education. But they only tell one part of the story.

Long, arduous journeys, often fraught with dangers, deter many children from attending school. Sexual violence is a particular risk for girls, especially in countries such as India and South Africa. Aside from the dangers, standards are poor and infrastructure non-existent in many schools across the world. Poor-quality teaching, lack of basic amenities such as safe drinking water and single-sex toilets - in many cases, there is little incentive to attend school.

The full story...

To celebrate International Literacy Day, we're looking at the causes and consequences of illiteracy for individuals and our global society. Get stuck in to our focus pieces for an in-depth exploration, join the debate by reading our blog, or take a look at our graphics for an enlightening overview...

Discover the impact of illiteracy...

Illiteracy: The facts and figures

Illiteracy: The facts and figures

In our infographic, we bring you the key statistics on the impact of illiteracy on individuals, families and our global society as a whole.

Illiteracy: The facts and figures - Read More…

How does child labour undermine literacy?

How does child labour undermine literacy?

Across the world, child labour is a major factor preventing children from going to school and equipping themselves with literacy skills. Poverty forces many children into work, but being illiterate will further propel the poverty cycle. As part of our series on literacy, we investigate this complex problem that keeps millions of children out of school every day.

How does child labour undermine literacy? - Read More…

Why is literacy a human right?

Why is literacy a human right?

If you were to list our human rights, would you include the ability to read and write? Literacy is a skill that many of us take for granted. So it may be a surprise to learn that literacy has been recognised as a human right for over 50 years in several international conventions. To celebrate International Literacy Day, we explore why literacy deserves this prized status.

Why is literacy a human right? - Read More…

39% of the world’s illiterate adults are found in India

39% of the world’s illiterate adults are found in India

The number of illiterate adults is India is 287 million - that's close to the entire population of the United States. For International Literacy Day we explore why illiteracy is such a widespread problem in India...

39% of the world’s illiterate adults are found in India - Read More…

Why are two out of three illiterate people female?

Why are two out of three illiterate people female?

In the first of our International Literacy Day pieces, we take a detailed look at the impact of illiteracy on girls and investigate how change can be achieved…

Why are two out of three illiterate people female? - Read More…

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