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Reading the Future

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Literacy levels defined

By 2031, 47% of adults aged 16 and over—totaling more than 15 million—will continue to have low literacy skills below Level 3.

Level 3 is the internationally-accepted level of literacy required to cope in a modern society.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines the following five levels of literacy:

Levels of literacy

Level 1Very poor literacy skills
An individual at this level may, for example, be unable to determine from a package label the correct amount of medicine to give a child.

Level 2A capacity to deal only with simple, clear material involving uncomplicated tasks
People at this level may develop everyday coping skills, but their poor literacy skills make it hard to conquer challenges such as learning new job skills.

Level 3Adequate to cope with the demands of everyday life and work in an advanced society
This roughly denotes the skill level required for successful high school completion and college entry.

Levels 4 and 5 Strong skills.
Individuals at these levels can process information of a complex and demanding nature.

Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)


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