File Photo: Students line up and raise their hands on the first day of their new school year at a government school in Giza, south of Cairo, 22 September 2013.(Photo: Reuters)
More than 14 million people above the age of 10 are illiterate in Egypt, the country's official statistics agency announced on Thursday.
In an official statement, the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) said that 14.3 million Egyptians could not read and write in the year 2016, with 9.1 million being females.
In an announcement to mark International Literacy Day on September 8, CAPMAS said Egypt’s illiteracy rate stood at 20.1 percent nationwide, with the rate for men at 14.4 percent and 26 percent for women.
The CAPMAS statement, which comes one day before International Literacy Day, indicates a drop from last year’s announced national rate of 23.7 percent.
The agency also said that the illiteracy rate for youth aged 15 to 25 has dropped to 6.5 percent, in stark comparison with 57.1 percent among the elderly (those 60 and older), detailing that such a percentage gives a positive indicator for the future.
According to the statement, urban areas had a significantly lower illiteracy rate of 13.5 percent as compared to rural areas, which stood at 25.2 percent.
The highest illiteracy rates were recorded in Upper Egyptian provinces, with Beni Suef ranking first at 30.2 percent, and Sohag coming second with a rate of 30 percent.
Aswan recorded the lowest rate among Upper Egyptian provinces at 9.5 percent.
Nationwide, the lowest illiteracy rates were recorded in the North Sinai with a rate of 8.6 percent and New Valley, with 9.1 percent.
This year, UNESCO will be celebrating International Literacy Day across the world under the theme of ‘Literacy in a Digital World.'
According to UNESCO at least 750 million adults and 264 million out-of-school children still lack basic literacy skills worldwide.