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Social indicators

Indicators on illiteracy
Last update: 28 January 2005
 
     
          Ages 15-24        
 
Ages 25+
 

Albania

0.8

1.7

2001

b

0.6

0.5

…

…

Algeria

22.0

40.4

2000-2004

a

6.0

14.4

…

…

Angola

17.9

46.2

2001

d

17.3

37.4

…

…

Argentina

3.0

3.0

2000-2004

a

1.6

1.1

…

…

Armenia

0.3

0.8

2001

b

0.2

0.1

0.4

1.0

Azerbaijan

0.5

1.8

1999

b

0.1

0.1

0.7

2.4

Bahrain

11.4

16.4

2001

b

3.2

2.7

…

…

Bangladesh

49.7

68.6

2000-2004

a

42.2

58.9

…

…

Barbados

0.3

0.3

2000-2004

a

0.2

0.2

…

…

Belarus

0.2

0.4

2000-2004

a

0.2

0.2

…

…

Belize

23.3

22.9

2000

b

16.1

15.4

…

…

Benin

45.2

74.5

2000-2004

a

27.3

61.5

…

…

Bolivia

6.9

19.3

2001

b

1.5

3.9

…

…

Bosnia and Herzegovina

1.6

8.9

2000

d

0.4

0.3

…

…

Botswana

23.9

18.5

2000-2004

a

14.5

7.2

…

…

Brazil

13.8

13.5

2000

b

7.3

4.3

16.4

17.0

Brunei Darussalam

3.7

8.6

2001

b

1.0

0.7

…

…

Bulgaria

0.9

1.9

2000-2004

a

0.2

0.4

…

…

Burkina Faso

81.5

91.9

1996

b

74.5

86.0

…

…

Burundi

33.2

48.1

2000

d

24.4

30.5

…

…

Cambodia

19.2

40.7

1998

b

18.1

28.8

21.7

49.0

Cameroon

23.0

40.2

…

…

…

…

…

Cape Verde

14.6

32.0

2000-2004

a

8.0

13.7

…

…

Central African Rep.

35.2

66.5

2000

d

29.7

53.2

…

…

Chad

59.4

87.3

2000

d

44.7

76.9

…

…

Chile

4.2

4.4

2002

b

1.2

0.8

…

…

China e

4.9

13.5

2000

b

0.8

1.5

5.9

16.6

China, Macao SAR

4.7

12.2

2001

b

0.6

0.2

4.0

8.5

Colombia

7.9

7.8

2000-2004

a

3.5

2.1

…

…

Comoros

36.5

50.9

2000-2004

a

34.4

47.8

…

…

Congo

11.1

22.9

2000-2004

a

1.6

2.7

…

…

Costa Rica

4.3

4.1

2000-2004

a

1.9

1.3

…

…

Cτte d'Ivoire

39.9

61.9

2000

d

30.5

48.5

…

…

Croatia

0.7

2.9

2001

b

0.4

0.3

0.8

3.4

Cuba

3.0

3.2

2000-2004

a

0.2

0.2

…

…

Cyprus

1.4

4.9

2001

b

0.3

0.2

1.6

6.0

Dem. Rep. of the Congo

20.2

48.1

2000

d

23.3

38.9

…

…

Dominican Republic

12.0

12.7

2000

d

6.9

5.0

…

…

Ecuador

7.7

10.3

2001

b

3.6

3.5

9.4

13.1

Egypt

32.8

56.4

1996

b

21.0

33.1

…

…

El Salvador

17.6

22.9

2000-2004

a

10.4

11.9

…

…

Estonia

0.2

0.2

2000

b

0.3

0.2

0.1

0.1

Ethiopia

50.8

66.2

2000-2004

a

37.0

48.2

…

…

Fiji

5.5

8.6

1996

b

0.0

0.0

2.5

6.3

Ghana

37.1

54.3

 …

… 

… 

…

…

Guatemala

22.7

37.5

2000-2004

a

13.8

26.2

…

…

Haiti

46.2

50.0

2000-2004

a

34.2

33.5

…

…

Honduras

20.2

19.8

2001

b

13.1

9.1

…

…

Hungary

0.6

0.7

2001

b

0.6

0.4

0.6

0.8

Indonesia

7.5

16.6

2000-2004

a

1.5

2.4

…

…

Iran (Islamic Rep. of)

16.5

29.6

…

… 

… 

…

…

Israel

2.7

6.6

2000-2004

a

0.4

0.6

…

…

Jamaica

16.2

8.6

2000-2004

a

8.7

2.2

…

…

Jordan

4.5

14.1

2000-2004

a

0.7

0.5

…

…

Kazakhstan

0.2

0.7

1999

b

0.2

0.1

0.3

0.9

Kenya

10.0

21.5

2000-2004

a

3.6

4.9

…

…

Kuwait

15.3

19.0

2000-2004

a

7.8

6.1

…

…

Kyrgyzstan

0.7

1.9

1999

b

0.3

0.3

0.8

2.5

Lao People's Dem. Rep.

23.0

39.1

2001

c

17.4

25.3

…

…

Latvia

0.2

0.3

2000

b

0.3

0.2

0.2

0.3

Lesotho

26.3

9.7

…

… 

… 

…

…

Liberia

27.7

60.7

2000-2004

a

13.7

44.6

…

…

Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

8.2

29.3

2000-2004

a

0.2

6.0

…

…

Lithuania

0.4

0.4

2001

b

0.3

0.3

0.4

0.4

Madagascar

23.6

34.8

2000

d

27.6

31.9

…

…

Malawi

25.1

46.0

1998

b

17.9

29.3

…

…

Malaysia

8.0

14.6

2000

b

2.8

2.7

…

…

Maldives

2.7

2.8

2000-2004

a

0.9

0.8

…

…

Mali

73.3

88.1

1998

b

67.7

83.1

…

…

Malta

8.2

6.6

2000-2004

a

2.4

0.2

…

…

Martinique

2.8

2.0

2000-2004

a

0.2

0.2

…

…

Mauritania

48.5

68.7

2000-2004

a

42.6

58.2

…

…

Mauritius

11.8

19.5

2000

b

6.3

4.6

13.5

24.0

Mexico

7.4

11.3

2000

b

3.2

3.5

9.3

14.7

Mongolia

2.0

2.5

2000

b

3.0

1.6

1.5

2.9

Morocco

36.7

61.7

2000-2004

a

22.6

38.7

…

…

Mozambique

37.7

68.6

2000-2004

a

23.4

50.8

…

…

Myanmar

6.3

13.8

2000

d

4.4

6.8

…

…

Namibia

16.2

17.2

2000-2004

a

9.4

6.0

…

…

Nepal

37.3

65.1

2001

b

19.4

39.8

45.0

76.4

Netherlands Antilles

3.3

3.3

2000-2004

a

1.8

1.5

…

…

New Caledonia

3.2

4.5

…

… 

… 

…

…

Nicaragua

23.2

23.4

2001

c

16.4

11.2

…

…

Niger

69.6

89.4

2000

d

62.8

84.3

…

…

Nigeria

25.6

40.6

2000-2004

a

9.3

13.5

…

…

Occupied Palestinian Ter.

7.8

20.3

1997

b

3.1

2.8

10.6

29.9

Oman

18.0

34.6

2000-2004

a

0.4

2.7

…

…

Pakistan

46.6

71.5

1998

b

32.9

56.9

50.6

78.5

Panama

7.5

8.8

2000

b

3.5

4.4

8.9

10.4

Paraguay

6.9

9.8

2000/2001

c

3.8

3.5

…

…

Peru

8.7

19.7

2002

c

2.3

4.4

…

…

Philippines

7.5

7.3

2000

b

5.5

4.3

8.3

8.7

Puerto Rico

6.1

5.6

2000-2004

a

2.9

1.6

…

…

Qatar

15.1

17.7

1997

b

5.9

4.2

…

…

Republic of Moldova

2.5

5.0

2000

d

1.7

0.9

…

…

Reunion

13.7

9.8

2000-2004

a

4.2

0.3

…

…

Romania

1.6

3.7

2002

b

2.3

2.2

1.4

4.1

Russian Federation

0.3

0.5

2000-2004

a

0.2

0.2

…

…

Rwanda

29.5

41.2

2000

d

22.8

24.1

…

…

Saint Lucia

10.4

9.4

2001

b

5.2

4.1

12.4

11.3

Samoa

1.1

1.6

2000-2004

a

0.6

0.5

…

…

Saudi Arabia

15.9

30.5

2000-2004

a

4.6

8.4

…

…

Senegal

43.9

71.5

2000

d

37.7

57.9

…

…

Serbia and Montenegro

1.1

5.9

2002

b

0.6

0.7

1.2

6.9

Seychelles

8.6

7.7

2003

b

1.2

0.6

…

…

Sierra Leone

60.2

79.5

2000

d

53.1

70.1

…

…

Singapore

3.4

11.4

2000

b

0.6

0.4

4.0

13.4

Slovakia

0.3

0.3

2001

b

0.4

0.3

…

…

Slovenia

0.3

0.4

2000-2004

a

0.2

0.2

…

…

South Africa

15.9

19.1

1996

b

6.3

5.6

19.5

24.0

Sri Lanka

5.3

10.4

2000-2004

a

2.8

3.1

…

…

Sudan

30.8

50.1

2000

d

18.4

30.8

…

…

Swaziland

19.6

21.9

2000

d

13.2

10.6

…

…

Syrian Arab Republic

9.0

25.8

2002

b

2.9

7.0

…

…

Tajikistan

0.3

0.7

2000

b

0.2

0.2

…

…

Thailand

5.1

9.5

2000

b

1.9

2.2

5.4

12.1

The FYR of Macedonia

1.8

5.9

2002

b

1.0

1.5

2.0

7.0

Togo

31.5

61.7

2000

d

16.9

36.7

…

…

Tonga

1.2

1.1

1996

b

0.8

0.6

1.4

1.2

Trinidad and Tobago

1.0

2.1

2000-2004

a

0.2

0.2

…

…

Tunisia

16.9

36.9

2000-2004

a

2.1

9.4

…

…

Turkey

5.6

21.5

2000

b

2.2

6.8

7.0

27.4

Turkmenistan

0.7

1.7

1995

b

0.2

0.2

…

…

Uganda

21.2

40.8

2000-2004

a

13.7

26.0

…

…

Ukraine

1.3

4.2

2001

b

0.4

0.3

1.6

4.9

United Arab Emirates

24.4

19.3

2000-2004

a

11.8

5.0

…

…

United Rep. of Tanzania

14.8

30.8

2000-2004

a

6.2

10.6

…

…

Uruguay

2.7

1.9

2000-2004

a

1.2

0.6

…

…

Uzbekistan

0.4

1.1

2000-2004

a

0.3

0.4

…

…

Venezuela

6.7

7.3

2001

b

3.7

1.9

8.0

9.4

Viet Nam

6.1

13.1

1999

b f

5.8

6.4

6.3

17.7

Yemen

30.5

71.5

2000-2004

a

15.7

49.1

…

…

Zimbabwe

6.2

13.7

2000-2004

a

1.1

3.8

…

…

Source: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Sources:

Estimated adult illiteracy
For estimated adult illiteracy, calculated from adult literacy rates published in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics web site http://www.uis.unesco.org/, accessed on January 2005.

Illiteracy rate
For illiteracy rate among persons aged 15-24 and 25+, prepared by the Statistics Division of the United Nations Secretariat from United Nations Demographic Yearbook database (as of November 2004) and
estimates of youth illiteracy published in http://www.uis.unesco.org/ accessed on January 2005.

Footnotes:

a

Estimates prepared by UNESCO Institute for Statistics (July 2002 assessment).

b

Based on the population census of year shown.

c

Based on a survey.

d

Based on Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS).

e

For statistical purposes the data for China do not include Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions and Taiwan province of China.

f

Data shown for ages 15 - 29 and  30+.

 

Technical notes:

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization defines an illiterate person as someone who can not, with understanding, both read and write a short, simple statement on his or her everyday life. A person who can only read but not write, or can write but not read is considered to be illiterate. A person who can only write figures, his or her name or a memorized ritual phrase is also not considered literate.

This definition of literacy is widely used in national population censuses and surveys but its interpretation and application may vary to some extent among countries, depending on national, social and cultural circumstances. Furthermore, this concept of literacy includes persons who, though familiar with the basics of reading and writing, might still be considered functionally illiterate.

Literacy is a good measure of educational achievement in developing regions. For young people in developing regions, literacy may be a better measure of education than enrolment since it usually reflects a minimal level of successfully completed schooling.

The first two columns present the latest estimates of adult (aged 15+) illiteracy prepared by UNESCO.    

The rates of illiteracy among persons aged 15-24 and 25+ shown here are prepared from the United Nations Demographic Yearbook database and data published by UNESCO.

For many countries or areas, illiteracy rates are not available from UNESCO for one or more of the following reasons: (a) illiteracy is believed to have been reduced to minimal levels through several decades of universal primary education, (b) it has not been possible to establish revised estimates following recent mass literacy campaigns, (c) not even a minimal database is available for making rough estimates, or (d) countries have preferred that no estimate be published.

 

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