Almost 800 Million Youngsters Do Not Have Basic Literacy Skills, Says UNESCO

IBL News | New York

A dramatic reality that rarely makes headlines: A total of 773 million youth and adults worldwide do not have basic literacy skills and therefore are deprived of access to decent jobs and participation in their communities. Two-thirds of them are women.

The United Nation’s UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning provided this date while calling the international community to increase funding and political will to advance into universal literacy.

Currently, the funding gap to reach functional literacy is $17 billion. Countries like Burkina Faso, Haiti, and South Sudan are in the most need of funding.

The COVID-19 outbreak has shown the dramatic face of the lack of literacy. “The pandemic clearly showed that literacy saves lives,” said David Atchoarena, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL).

“Only if people can read and write will they be able to access life-saving information and be empowered to act responsibly during emergencies such as the one the pandemic has brought about.”

This month, on International Literacy Day, Audrey Azoulay, Chief of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), pointed out that his institution is prompting to “rethink literacy in our contemporary world as part of the right to education and a means to create more inclusive and linguistically and culturally diverse societies.”