About 90% of Indians between 15 and 24 years of age are literate, meaning they can "both read and write with understanding a short simple statement about their everyday life", according to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) data.

India’s literacy rate has increased by 30 percentage points, from 41% in 1981 to 71% in 2015, according to data from UNESCO and CIA World Factbook. This means 931 million Indians are literate, up from 293 million 35 years ago.

India’s improvement is in line with that of Pakistan (32 percentage points) and Bangladesh (32 percentage points), UNESCO-CIA World Factbook data show.

Nepal's literacy rose from 21% in 1981 to 64% in 2014, whereas Sri Lanka's literacy rate rose from 87% in 1981 to 93% at the end of 2015.


Source: UNESCO, CIA World Factbook

Literacy has seen a steady increase since 2000, especially among youth (15-24 years old), due to mandatory education and better access to schooling, increasing up to 91% worldwide, as the world celebrates the 50th International Literacy Day as established by UNESCO in 1966.

As many as 758 million people over 15 years are still illiterate worldwide, two-thirds women, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) data.

Of the global illiterate population, 114 million are 15-24 years, 509 million are 25-64 years, and 135 million are 65 years and older.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the youth literacy rate is 71%; in South and West Asia, 84%.

(Grocchetti is a multimedia journalist and has a BA degree from Napier University, Edinburgh. Moloney is a multimedia journalist and has a BA (Hons) degree from the University of Birmingham, UK.)

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