Second Global Report on Adult Learning and Education - National Reports

The Second Edition of the Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE) has placed literacy at the forefront for several reasons. Far too many people – and in particular women of all ages – continue to live with poor literacy skills. As many as 774 million people cannot read and write, and 123 million of these are 15–24 year olds; i.e. young people and young adults. Given the imprecise nature of the data on which these figures are based – including in the most highly developed countries – it is likely that poor literacy is actually much more widespread than generally reported 1) 2). Drawing on data gathered from 141 countries, this Report reviews progress in implementing the Belém Framework for Action and presents insights from all world regions. It adopts a global perspective, describing the commonalities and differences among Member States as they continue to work to improve their adult education sectors. This publication is available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

The Report shows that, despite progress in increasing the global number of literate people, many millions are still excluded from learning opportunities. Underlying this is a conceptual problem: the lack of a common global understanding of how to approach literacy. Many countries still favour quick “illiteracy eradication” campaigns, and most continue to use traditional methods and criteria (population censuses, household surveys, number of years of formal schooling) to estimate literacy rates. This reflects a tendency to approach literacy as a dichotomy, classifying people as either literate or illiterate. However, there is some indication of a growing awareness of existing limitations, and a growing understanding, as envisaged in the Belém Framework, that literacy is a continuum, a process learners engage in throughout life and in all areas of their life.

Some of the most important messages that emerge from the second GRALE are that

  • the lens of lifelong and life-wide learning provides the most promising perspective for addressing the literacy challenge;
  • there is a need to understand lifelong learning in its broadest sense; and
  • several of the core messages of the Belém Framework for Action have found their way into national policy debates and reform processes.


  1. European Commission. 2012. EU High Level Group of Experts in Literacy: Final Report. Brussels, European Commission.
  2. UIS. 2013. Adult and Youth Literacy: National, regional and global trends,1985-2015. (UIS Information paper). Montreal,UIS

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