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Literacy is a complex and dynamic phenomenon that varies across time, language, and geography. The origins of literacy can be traced back thousands of years, initially invented as a tool for communication to be shared among only a small portion of educated human society. However, within the past few centuries, many societies have experienced transitions from mostly illiterate to predominantly literate populations through a variety of means including both formal and informal learning. The present entry considers literacy in a global perspective, including the history and definition of literacy; life-span perspectives; and finally some challenges and opportunities for the future.

History and Definition of Literacy

The United Nations estimates that as of 2017 about 80% of adults worldwide can read or write to some extent. Nonetheless, the ...

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