CIE Project to Map Literacy Programs in 29 Countries (2018-2019)

In December, 2018 CIE received a contract from the Global Alliance for Literacy (GAL), part of UNESCO’s Institute for Lifelong Learning in Hamburg, to conduct a youth and adult literacy mapping activity in 29 countries with the greatest numbers of young people and adults with low literacy skills.


The project, led by Professor Cristine Smith (right) with the International Education program in the Department of Education, Policy, Research & Administration, will analyze literacy programs and policies in order to assess the cost of raising literacy levels in these countries by 2030, to meet target 4.6 of the Sustainable Development Goals.


Small teams of faculty and graduate students associated with CIE will be responsible for different components of the project.  They will develop a framework for data collection and analysis, conduct a survey of literacy organizations activities in the 29 target countries, and analyze the results using the framework.  Using the survey data, they will prepare a report which identifies the main challenges, the most successful practices, and make recommendations.


The GAL recognizes that mapping out literacy initiatives can make them more transparent and accessible to stakeholders, reduce separate, fragmented, duplicative funding and action, while also identifying complementarity of action (and resources) at country or sector level. The mapping will focus on youth and adult literacy post-2015 public policies, plans and programs in the twenty-nine GAL countries based on data provided by governmental and non-governmental organizations.


The 29 countries include the twenty countries with literacy rates lower than 50%. Sixteen of those countries are in Africa, two are in Central America and the rest are in Asia.  The remainder are the E9 countries: Nigeria, Egypt, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil and Mexico.


Global data on literacy shows that southern Asia is home to almost one-half of the global illiterate population. The others are distributed as follows: 27 per cent of all illiterate adults live in sub-Saharan Africa, 10 per cent in eastern and southeastern Asia, 9 per cent in northern Africa and western Asia, and about 4 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean.