The Arab Organization for Education, Science and Culture (ALECSO) said that illiteracy rate in Arab countries exceeded 19 percent or nearly 97 million. The organization called on Arab governments to work harder to combat illiteracy and to promote adult education.
The Tunisia-based organization issued a statement on Wednesday to commemorate the Arab Literacy Day stating that "the Human Development Reports for 2013 and the Global Monitoring Report on Education for All for 2012 indicate that among the Arab population which amounted to 353,8 million people; only 256,946 million were familiar with reading and writing, which means that nearly 96,836 million are illiterate. This means that the illiteracy rate in the Arab world has increased to 19.73 percent of the total population, whereas the percentage of female illiterates has amounted to 60.60 percent compared to 39.42 percent male illiterates". However, ALESCO report did include figures from three Arab countries; namely Comoros, Djibouti and Somalia.
The Organization warned that nearly 6,188 million boys and girls who are at school age are not enrolled in any sort of education, which means that illiteracy rate in Arab countries will increase in coming years. Further, the organization warned that the dropout rate during primary education years is among the highest ratios in the world.
ALECSO urged all organizations and official bodies that work in the development sector to contribute to combating illiteracy in Arab countries and to providing primary education to all children, especially those in refugee camps and hotbeds of armed conflicts in Syria and Somalia.
Arab countries celebrate the Arab Literacy Day on January 8 every year after the Arab League decided to mark the date in memory of its decision in 1966 to establish the Arab Network for Literacy and Adult Education in recognition of the importance of adult literacy and the right to education.