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Nine Million Iranians Are Illiterate

Out of a population of 71.5 million new figures estimate that roughly 9.45 million Iranians are illiterate. This research was compiled by the Literacy Movement Organization (LMO) created after the 1979 Islamic revolution to increase literacy throughout the country, especially in underserved rural areas.

Though the number seems high, it shows some progress. As recently as the 1950s, only around 15 percent of Iran's then largely agrarian population was literate. Government campaigns like the LMO and mass migration to the cities meant literacy soared in the next decades. Tehran currently has the highest literacy level.

The organization acknowledges work is still necessary to raise literacy rates. The answer may lie in the country's women — 85 percent of their targeted population is women, and they're taking to the book learnin'. The head of the organization says that women are more motivated to learn reading and writing.

Is Iran making gains in this area? According to education stats in The Economist Pocket World in Figures I was surprised to see the country that spends the biggest percentage of money on education is Cuba. The United States didn't crack the top 20, though they do rank fifth in percentage of eligible students enrolled in higher education. Can we judge a country on the education of its citizens?


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