The International Development Research Centre (IDRC: http://publicwebsite.idrc.ca/EN/) says, “Literacy is very important – many would say a human right. A good quality basic education equips pupils with literacy skills for life and further learning; literate parents are more likely to keep their children healthy and send them to school; they are better able to access other education and employment opportunities; literate societies are better geared to meet development challenges. . . Yet, literacy is one of the most neglected Education For All (EFA) goals. Most of the approximately 774 million adults unable to read and write – about one-fifth of the world’s population – are concentrated in South and West Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and the Pacific.
“Pastoralist and nomadic populations (tens of millions across African dry lands, the Middle East and parts of Asia), have lower literacy levels than other rural populations. Indigenous groups, linguistic minorities, migrants and people with disabilities have lower literacy rates, reflecting exclusion of these groups from mainstream society and reduced access to formal education and literacy programs. This is an appalling loss of human potential and economic capacity.”
The IDRC also points out that illiteracy tends to prevail in low-income countries where severe poverty is widespread. The key socio-demographic variables are: wealth, age, gender, urban/rural residence and schooling.
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