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Summary

In 1820, just 12 percent of the world could read and write,1 today, 86 percent of the world is literate.2 In South Sudan, 73 percent of the population cannot read or write. Afghanistan, Burkina Faso and Niger are close behind, with 72 percent of the population being illiterate. Together, the four nations have the lowest literacy rates in the world.3 Two thirds of the world’s illiterate population are women.4 In 43 nations, women aged 15-24 are less likely to be literate than men, primarily in Northern Africa and Western Asia.5 The global youth literacy rate has grown from 83 percent to 91 percent in the last 20 years.6 Nearly 32 million people across the United States cannot read or write, and 20 percent of those in Washington D.C. are illiterate. Without the ability to read or write, individuals are more likely to have lower paying jobs, an unstable financial status and have a higher risk of unemployment.7 On a national level, low literacy rates affect a nation’s GDP growth, and cause many job openings to remain unfilled, due to a lack of skilled candidates to fill them.8 Show References
1 https://ourworldindata.org/literacy 2 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.ADT.LITR.ZS 3 https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-lowest-literacy-rates-in-the-world.html 4 http://uis.unesco.org/en/news/international-literacy-day-2017 5 Ibid 6 https://data.unicef.org/topic/education/literacy/ 7 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/11/01/hiding-in-plain-sight-the-adult-literacy-crisis/?utm_term=.2ea07c0616fc 8 Ibid
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