Global Illiteracy

What We Do

Today, global literacy statistics paint a gloomy picture. Illiteracy threatens over 785 million adults worldwide, translating into one in every five people on the planet, with either no or just basic reading skills. Two-thirds of the illiterate population is women.

The slumping global literacy rate has detrimental effects on communities all over the world. Many people take literacy for granted, but for those that are denied this basic skill, some of life’s most essential necessities become far out of reach.

Critical Moments

The real problems associated with being illiterate involve critical parts of life such as understanding medical instruction, applying for a loan, signing a contract, or getting basic job training. These life-altering situations are often the path to a better life, yet without the ability to read often comes misunderstanding and confusion which perpetuates the cycle of poverty and illness. In fact, poverty and burden of disease correlate directly with illiteracy and low literacy. Life expectancy is lowest where people cannot read.

Global Illiteracy Statistics

•1 in 5 people are the world are illiterate, 2/3 being women
•Although 98% of illiterate people are concentrated in three key areas: South and West Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Arab States, developed nations are also facing a growing illiteracy problem.
•In the U.S. over 93 million people have basic or below basic literacy skills.
•Africa, as a whole continent, has less than a 60% literacy rate.


With global literacy rates in perilous condition, it’s time to rethink pamphlets and brochures. Speaking Books are designed to overcome the challenges associated with illiteracy to help distribute knowledge to all people, in a way that is relevant for them, literate or not.