The world loses more than $1 trillion due to illiteracy – Report

Photo credit- Kwabena Akuamoah Boateng,US Embassy

A new report by the World Literacy Foundation released today September 8, 2022 to coincide with World Literacy Day has found that illiteracy costs the world some $1.19 trillion.

The report copied to Ghana Business News is therefore calling for collective global action to eradicate illiteracy in the society.

It indicates that globally, almost 770 million people can’t read a single word and another two billion people struggle to read a sentence.

The report titled “The Economic & Social Cost of Illiteracy” also highlights the social and economic impact of a person’s inability to read and write, adding that illiteracy is ruining lives and is linked with an array of poor life outcomes, such as poverty, unemployment social exclusion, crime and long-term illness.

Authors of the report are calling on world leaders to treat illiteracy as a type of disease and aim to eradicate it.

“Over the years, there have been many attempts to place an economic value on the cost of illiteracy in various nations. There are disputes about the methodologies used to calculate such figures. But the fact remains that illiteracy costs the global economy more than $1 trillion dollars each year due to the fact that at least one in five people worldwide struggle with illiteracy. This is a global tragedy. Behind the numbers are the millions of people who live in poverty due to the simple fact that they are illiterate,” the authors said.

According to the report functional illiteracy means a person may be able to read and write simple words, but cannot apply these skills to tasks such as reading a medicine label, balancing a chequebook, or filling out a job application

“Shockingly, more than 796 million people in the world cannot read and write. About 67 million children do not have access to primary school education and another 72 million miss out on secondary school education,” it said.

The report further highlights the economic cost and social impact of a spike in illiteracy rates due to the disruption in children’s education caused by the pandemic.

“The study finds that children from low-income homes are those most impacted in a post-pandemic environment. With gaps in their reading development, many children face lifelong illiteracy without effective intervention,” says Andrew Kay, CEO of World Literacy Foundation.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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