UNESCO’s International Literacy Day, which takes place September 8-9, calls attention to illiteracy rates among kids and adults around the world, and to mark the occasion, DW released a report that shows that despite having a lauded educational system, Germany’s illiteracy rate is quite concerning.
Statistics show that some nine percent of Germans cannot read or write past a third grade level, which may seem low, but that amounts to at least 7.5 million people.
Germany has quite a few resources available to citizens that would be considered illiterate, many of which are offered at no cost, but the funding dwarfs that of the country’s more traditional education systems.
“The German education system focuses on the better pupils”
Last year, Germany announced a ten-year Decade of Alphabetization program to combat the illiteracy rate with a budget of 180 million euro ($203 million), but Ralf Häder, director of the Federal Association for Alphabeitzation and Basic Education, told DW that the amount is “far too little”.
So how can a country that is known for its outstanding educational system have such a high rate of citizens not even able to read or write? Häder says it ultimately comes down to how people are raised. “Were books read at home? Could their parents read? Some families don’t consider education that important, so that if children have problems at school they don’t get much support,” he explained to DW. “The German education system focuses on the better pupils. Not much attention is paid, if two or three children can’t keep up.”
The DW report dives deeper into the issue and the various programs that are available, yet not utilized, in its full report. It’s a fascinating read that shines light on a problem most people don’t know even exists.