Illiteracy Might Surprise You

Illiteracy Might Surprise You

See the updated post.

torn bookOnly 13% of adults can read and compare two essays. What does that mean for editing? Who are we serving? Today, in my How To column at [now defunct], I look at the definitions and prevalence of illiteracy.

Illiteracy and functional illiteracy were defined by UNESCO in 1978:

A person is illiterate who cannot with understanding both read and write a short simple statement on [their] everyday life.

A person is functionally illiterate who cannot engage in all those activities in which literacy is required for effective functioning of [their] group and community and also for enabling [them] to continue to use reading, writing and calculation for [their] own and the community’s development.

Yes, it is ironic that the language UNESCO used to write about illiteracy is accessible to only the very most literate people; and those people probably cringe from the effort of reading it nonetheless.


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