UNESCO: More Than Five Million Mexicans Are Illiterate
Alberto Valderrabano - The News
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April 22, 2015

As a janitor, Elena stays active at the age of 65. Even though her income is very small, it allows her to survive. From Monday to Saturday, she travels from the State of Mexico into Mexico City to clean offices. Elena is illiterate; however, for her it isn’t necessary to know how to read in order to move around the city and even less so to work.

She doesn’t need to read to count her money. She recognizes the value of bills and coins by their size, color and shape. Elena does not have the smallest interest in learning to read and write. When she was young, she didn’t have the opportunity to study and now that she knows she can survive without these abilities, so she gives them no importance.

More than five million Mexicans are illiterate like her. This historical lag is not unique to Mexico. There are 793 million people worldwide who don’t know how to read and write. Most of them are in Asia and Africa, but Latin America also has a significant number, with 4.6 percent of the world’s illiterate population according to the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO).

This adds up to 36 million people. Illiteracy is related to poverty and marginalization, as well as other phenomena such as multiculturality and the diversity of languages.

...The National Campaign for Literacy and Elimination of Educational Lag seeks to make Mexico free from illiteracy by calling on students from the various federal high school sub-systems to participate in this campaign, according to the INEA’s general director, Alfredo Llorente Martínez.

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