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Literacy in The Caribean

A person is literatie who can, with understanding, both read and write a short simple statement on their everyday life.

— United Nations Development Program, 2009, p. 211

Nearly every adult in the Western world could be considered as literate. Most people know there’s a huge difference between literacy in Third-World countries and the Western World, or First World. But there seem to be a lot more areas in the world where it isn’t so common to be able to read and write. Like the Caribbean for example. (By the way, i’m not saying illiteracy isn’t a serious problem in the Western World)

Recently I made a small study about The Caribbean and compared them with the fifteen countries that formed the European Union before 2004, the so called EU-15. Central question in this study:

Based on the literacy rates of both areas, is there any difference between the areas, en how did that difference changed over time?

Figure 1: Literacy in The Caribbean, per year in percentages

Most people won’t even have the notice of The Caribbean as an less developed area, but rather see it as an perfect destination for vacation. So did I. But while collecting the right data and putting together the graphs, it became clear that the seven countries forming The Caribbean are still way behind the Western World. While the EU-15 have literacy rates above 98%, in The Caribbean only 85% of there inhabits was able to read and write in 1999, according to the UN Development Report. Which is shocking, because literacy can be considered as one of the major indicators for development.

As you can see in figure 1.1, they’re making progress. Within eight years, the percentage of literate people increased from 85,9% in 1999 to 90,5% in 2007, according to the UN. But when placing these developments in the context of the European literacy rates, as is done in figure 2, is seems there’s still a long, long way to go.

Figure 2: Literacy in The Caribbean and EU-15, per year in percentages


United Nations Development Reports
United Nations Development Program

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