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A Kenyan girl sat at desk in a school classroom, holding a pen to write in her books
18 April 2023

How many children around the world are illiterate?

Discovering the staggering level of global illiteracy

How many children cannot read?

Although it’s impossible to know exactly how many children around the world cannot read or write, UNESCO reports that 250 million children lack basic literacy skills.

Illiteracy can affect children all over the world, however illiteracy disproportionately affects children in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, where rates tend to be higher than in other regions. According to the United Nations, nearly two thirds of the children falling behind reading targets live in Central and Southern Asia and Eastern and South-Eastern Asia.

READ MORE: The definition of poverty around the world

Why is literacy important?

Literacy is important for children as, with low reading and writing skills, a child is likely to find life harder for multiple reasons. The ability to read and write effects every facet of life. Being unable to read and write means you are limited in your employment options (often having to take lower-paid jobs), it means you are more likely to face adverse health conditions as it’s not easy to seek health information, it means you’re likely to have lower self-esteem, you’re more likely to rely on welfare, you might face higher levels of crime; the list goes on and on.

Literacy is something that opens doors, but being illiterate certainly closes them and, as a Christian charity based in the UK, working to help educate children is one of our key goals. We work with communities and governments to improve access and quality of the education children receive, helping them overcome barriers like financial status, location, or other circumstances outside of their control. By reducing the barriers to education, we can help children achieve more, learn more, grow their self-esteem and set themselves up for the life they deserve.

Our educational initiatives include vocational classes, helping children stay in school, offering additional classes and ensuring children who may suffer from other disadvantages in life are given the same level of education as everyone else.

For every child sponsored, four more benefit too

By supporting World Vision, you can help us to support teachers, improve the educational facilities on offer and empower children to become higher-earning, healthier adults who will, one day, break the cycle of poverty and be able to educate their own children.

The best way to change a child’s life is to transform their whole community, and Child Sponsorship means helping communities to help themselves. Your sponsorship will help children and the entire community with the essentials they need to build a better future, such as clean water, education, healthcare facilities, nutritious food, protection, and job opportunities for parents to improve their income.


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