Next week, on October 28, Venezuela will celebrate its 10th anniversary of ending adult illiteracy. According to various media reports, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially declared Venezuela a “Territory Free of Illiteracy” a decade ago on October 28, 2005. However, UNESCO does not issue official literacy declarations, and the Venezuelan government actually issued the declaration itself.
The Venezuelan illiteracy eradication program was known as Mission Robinson, and the government says more than 129,000 citizens received training in combating illiteracy. The program targeted low-income citizens, about 70,000 indigenous people, men and women in prison, and Venezuelans with hearing and vision impediments. Mission Robinson officials say they helped an estimated 1.48 million adults learn to read and write in Spanish and various indigenous languages.
According to the latest UNESCO data available for Venezuela, the country had a total literacy rate of 95.4% among adults 15 years and older in 2015. A slight reading gap between men and women remains, with 95% of men and 95.7% of women literate respectively. In the United States, studies show that girls read for pleasure 10 minutes more per day than their male peers, and that reading gender gap is common in nations around the world.
The Venezuela UNESCO data highlights the huge strides the country has made to maintain its high literacy rate in the past 10 years. Critically, the total literacy rate is as high as 97.7% for Venezuelans between the ages of 15 and 24. UNESCO’s adult literacy rate does not keep statistics on children and teens less than 15 years old.
The data also shows that Venezuela achieved huge reductions in the illiterate population between 1985 and 2010. In particular, the literacy rate among those aged 65 years and older rose sharply during those years, as more educated younger generations replaced older populations in the country.
On October 28, 2015, the country will have much to celebrate; Venezuela has maintained one of the highest literacy rates in the region. The total rate is up from 84.7% in 1981, 89.8% in 1990, and 95.2% in 2007.