pearson project literacy

The hidden crisis

Illiteracy affects 750 million people globally. That’s 1 in every 10 people in the world today who cannot read this sentence. The consequences are both widespread and profound.

It’s a global crisis, affecting people closer to home than you may think. People experiencing difficulties with literacy often find ways of concealing it.

In the United States alone there are 32 million adults who cannot read. Illiteracy remains largely invisible, but it’s an issue that no country can afford to ignore.

From generation to generation

For the individual, simple tasks like catching a bus or doing the shopping can become a daily challenge. Beyond this, illiteracy is likely to form a lifelong barrier to education and will limit opportunities to participate fully in society.

Those struggling with literacy are more likely to suffer social and economic hardship. Their children are also less likely to be literate and families can become locked into a vicious cycle.  

For societies, the impact of intergenerational illiteracy can be devastating. It’s something that’s closely linked to many of the world’s biggest problems, including gender inequality, homelessness and the spread of diseases. Learn more about the extent of its impact from our Alphabet of Illiteracy.

Our global movement

In response to this crisis, we founded Project Literacy. More than a campaign, it’s a rallying cry to individuals and organizations around the world to set change in motion.

Our aim? To close the literacy gap by 2030 and to unlock the potential of millions of people around the world.

Learning to read and write takes time, it takes commitment and it takes courage. The idea behind Project Literacy is to work together with partner organizations – making the most of our collective resources, experience and expertise in education – to support the millions of brave individuals on their journey towards literacy.

A global problem calls for global action.

Partnership and action

To date, we have teamed up with more 100 partners, active in more than 35 countries. Our global network connects teachers, designers, scientists, activists and economists. Together, we are working to raise awareness, mobilize action and advance best practices.

The challenges we face in tackling illiteracy are complex and highly dependent on context. With the close collaborations between these NGOs, charities and governments, the approach to this crisis will be both global and local.

Our aims are bold, but our voice is being heard. By the end of last year, Project Literacy awareness campaigns had reached 3 billion people.

And, from awareness, comes change. Today, over 7 million people are directly benefiting from Project Literacy’s investment campaigns and programs. For many the cycle of illiteracy has already been broken.

How you can help 

Change is in motion but, to reach our goals, we’ll need your support. By 2030, no child should be born at risk of poor literacy. With your help, we can make this a reality.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, there are big and small ways in which you can contribute.

  • Volunteer for a local literacy charity. Volunteering hands-on with people in your community can be a powerful experience. Whether it’s a one-off activity or a long-term commitment, empowering another individual to read and write can be incredibly rewarding. Become a volunteer!
  • Download Wanda’s story. Help us change the lives of those living with illiteracy by reading and sharing Wanda’s story and we will donate $1 to Project Literacy. Download it now!
  • Subscribe to our newsletter. Find out more about Project Literacy and the work of our partners. We’ll be sure to keep up to date with our progress and let you know about upcoming events. Subscribe!

Working alone, there’s only so much we can do. But together, there’s no limit to what we can achieve.

Join Project Literacy today.

In this article