Project Literacy Petition Delivered to UN General Assembly

Project Literacy Petition Delivered to UN General Assembly

Sixteen organisations and charities joined Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, on Monday in announcing their commitment to Project Literacy.

The project has one clear goal: to raise awareness of and tackle the global problem of illiteracy, which affects one in ten people alive today and costs the world $1.19 trillion a year.

To mark the announcement, Project Literacy carried Monday the world’s largest-ever petition to the United Nations Headquarters in New York, where 193 global leaders are this week attending the UN General Assembly.

This petition calls upon the world’s leaders to acknowledge the urgency of the international illiteracy crisis and pledge to take meaningful action to address it.

[ Malala Petitions to Fund Education for Girls ]

The petition, which can be found at, was created on behalf of the 757 million people around the world who cannot read, two thirds (63%) of whom are women.

That is 11% of the world’s population, more than the population of Europe. 115 million children and youths are classified as illiterate, with 59% of these being young women.

Illiteracy is a global problem:

  • No country has ever achieved continued economic growth without having first achieved an adult literacy rate above 40%.
  • Illiteracy costs a developed nation 2% of its GDP each year and an emerging economy 1.2% of GDP.
  • 32 million adults in the United States can’t read. And one in four children grow up without learning how to read.
  • More than 70% of inmates in American prisons cannot read above fourth grade level (typically 9-10 years old).
  • 1 in 5 UK children leave primary school unable to read or write.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of illiterate adults has increased by 37% since 1990.
  • In India, 287 million people do not have basic reading skills.
  • The rate of violent crimes such as homicide, sexual assaults and robbery are almost double among the illiterate population.
  • Today 520 million women and girls are illiterate, denying them access to learn, earn, vote and thrive.

People and organisations wanting to help bring the power of words to the world can join the movement in many ways, from signing the petition online and sharing #projectliteracy to raise awareness to volunteering or donating to any of the organisations involved with the campaign.

Project Literacy is a global campaign convened by Pearson to make significant and sustainable advances in the fight against illiteracy so that all people – regardless of geography, language, race, class, or gender – have the opportunity to fulfill their potential through the power of words.

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