When you look at the chart, you can see that over the past 200 years global levels of literacy flipped almost 100%. While the share of the population that was literate was a mere 12% in 1820, that number switched around almost entirely to “only” 17% that could NOT read or write in 2014!
Let’s take a look at the absolute numbers:
Until 1980 things didn’t look so good in terms of reducing illiteracy as far as total numbers were concerned. The reason for that was of course the population explosion during the middle of the 20th century. At the same time I think it is remarkable that illiteracy didn’t increase more during that time period.
Fortunately, that trend started to reverse in 1980 when the population growth rate slowed down and efforts to educate the poorest regions of the world increased. At this turning point we had 1.95 billion illiterate people. By 2014 we had reduced that number to 1.05 billion, almost cutting illiteracy in half within 35 years.
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