Two-thirds of world’s 771m illiterates are women: report
ISLAMABAD, March 24, 2006: There are about 771 million illiterate adults in the world, and 103 million children are out of school today March 24. Many of those who enrol drop out without adequate literacy skills, says a Unesco study. It says most young people who complete school without adequate literacy competencies remain illiterate because they do not have basic skills in reading, writing and numerary, and lack information about health, environment, education and the world of work and, most importantly, remain unable to learn throughout life.
These skills contribute to empowerment, enabling people to better direct and control their lives, actively participate in society as responsible and contributing citizens, enhance their livelihoods and practise healthy lifestyles. Yet literacy is a low priority on the development and the education agendas in many countries and consequently is a weak link in the global movement towards achieving education for all (EFA).
According to the study, at present 85 per cent of populations with insufficient literacy competencies live in thirty-four countries. Unless literacy addresses the realities of communities in these countries, the internationally-agreed agenda of EFA and sustainable development will have limited impact. Relevant policy measures, well-planned programmes and sustained allocation of sufficient resources are needed to ensure that effective learning opportunities are provided to those without literacy competencies.
About two-third of the illiterate are women. Women and out- of-school girls are by far the largest group without access to education. The study stresses on focused attention, both for their personal development, their role as mothers, as care-givers for their children and as active and contributing members of society. Literate mothers provide a conducive environment and learning experiences that facilitate childrenÂ’s holistic development. Clearly literate mothers and women contribute to the education of future generations. Other excluded and disadvantaged groups, such as ethnic minorities, rural populations, indigenous people, people living with HIV/Aids and disabilities also need to be given priority, the report adds.
Taking notice of this high-level illiteracy, especially amongst women, the survey suggests: “Literacy for all has to address the literacy needs of the individual as well as the family, literacy in the workplace and in the community, as well as in society and in the nation in tune with the goals of economic, social and cultural development of all people in all countries. Literacy for all will be effectively achieved only when it is planned and implemented in local contexts of language and culture, ensuring gender equity and equality, fulfilling learning aspirations of local communities and groups.”