About Adult Literacy

About Adult Literacy

Literacy is a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means for social and human development. Educational opportunities depend on literacy. Literacy is at the heart of basic education for all and essential for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace, and democracy.

[“Why Is Literacy Important?” UNESCO, 2010]

Information about Adult Literacy

Maps and Data Sources

  • U.S. Skills Map: State and County Indicators of Adult Literacy and Numeracy
    Data by state and county of adults ages 16 to 74 at three different literacy and numeracy levels as of 2017. Provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Data is drawn from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) and the American Community Survey.
  • ACS Educational Attainment by Degree Level and Age Group
    State-level maps and graphs of educational attainment by age group for years 2005-2018. Provided by the National Information Center for Higher Education Policymaking and Analysis based on data from the American Community Survey.
  • Literacy Gap Map
    Data by state and county on percent of adults who lack basic literacy skills, and downloadable state and city fact cards. Provided by the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy based on data from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) and the American Community Survey.

Literacy is a key lever of change and a practical tool of empowerment on each of the three main pillars of sustainable development: economic development, social development and environmental protection. …As the foundation of learning throughout life, literacy is at the heart of sustainable development.

[Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General, Message for International Literacy Day, 8 September 2005]

Literacy is not a luxury, it is a right and a responsibility.

[President Bill Clinton, Message on International Literacy Day, 8 September 1994]

Literacy arouses hopes, not only in society as a whole but also in the individual who is striving for fulfillment, happiness and personal benefit by learning how to read and write. Literacy…means far more than learning how to read and write. …The aim is to transmit…knowledge and promote social participation.

[UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, Hamburg, Germany]
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