Functional Illiteracy

How Has the South Asia Highest Literacy Rate Impacted the Region?

Asia is a great example of how literacy impacts culture and poverty. The South Asia highest literacy rate rose from 46% to 72% between 1990 and 2016.1 Even though this is significant progress, over half of the world’s illiterate population lives in this region. The majority of these people are women and the elderly.

The countries with the highest literacy rates in South Asia are: Azerbaijan, Singapore, Macao, Indonesia, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bahrain, Bangladesh and Myanmar.2

On the other end of the spectrum, reports indicate that the highest illiteracy rates in the region are found in Bhutan and Pakistan (55% of adults) and Bangladesh and Nepal (60% of adults).3

What is being done?

  • Free Education
    • While some countries in the region provide free education, parents still need to provide books, uniforms and other school supplies. For many families, this is unattainable. Other countries do not offer free education, making schooling children almost impossible for poor families. This greatly impacts the literacy rates in those countries.
  • Literacy Training for Adults
    • GFA World and other like-minded organizations provide literacy classes for adults, teaching reading, writing and basic math. The teachers train students in phonics, how to write letters, how to understand combinations of sounds and so on. Learning to read and perform basic math helps these adults provide for their families in ways they couldn’t before. They can now help their children learn, read medicine bottles, understand warning signs, read street signs and understand other important aspects of everyday life.
  • Child Sponsorship
    • Programs that provide resources and help for parents help children stay in school. Child labor is a significant problem in the South Asia region. When children are gifted with helpful resources like school supplies, nutritious food, clean water, medical check-ups and more, many financial pressures on families are relieved. Families are motivated to keep their children in school instead of forcing them into child labor to help provide for the family.

Will you join GFA World in helping individuals in South Asia learn how to read and write? Entire communities are being impacted through our programs, and we’re so thankful for the generous donors who help make these literacy classes possible.

1 “10 most literate Asian countries.” World Atlas.
2 “10 most literate Asian countries.” World Atlas.
3 “Low literacy rates in South Asia causes and consequences.” World Atlas.