Regional Mid-term Evaluation.
According to the EFA Global Monitoring Report 20111, there were an estimated 796 million illiterate adults worldwide in 2008, more than half of them living in South and West Asia. Two thirds are girls and women. Many countries are seeing increases in their literacy rates. In other countries, however, such increases are too small to offset population growth as the absolute number of illiterates continues to rise. Closely linked to illiteracy, there were 67 million school age children out of school in 2008 of whom more than 26 million were in the Asia-Pacific region. Among them, a huge proportion are girls. In the absence of measures to put these out-of-school children into school or provide them alternative educational opportunities, they will grow up to join the ranks of adult illiterates.
Literacy is a basic right, guaranteed under the fundamental right to education enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Literacy is also an important tool to empower people and communities so as to enable them to enjoy their rights such as the right to health, right to information, right to justice and right to freedom. Absence of literacy is strongly correlated with poverty. Those who can use their literacy skills to defend their legal rights have a marked advantage over those who cannot.