Nine million Europeans can't read or write, according to a recent United Nations report. Low levels of literacy are not confined to the fringes of European society, the report said.
Not everyone knows their ABCs
While Euorpe has a literacy rate of more than 96 percent, serious disparities persist, according to a United Nations report released Tuesday, May 6.
Illiteracy affects nine million people in the central and eastern part of the continent, according to the UN's education and scientific agency UNESCO.
"Contrary to the commonly held assumption that only minority groups are affected, low levels of literacy touch mainstream European populations," UNESCO said in a statement.
Literacy and economic success linked
UNESCO also noted that according to an adult literacy survey conducted in 20 developed states, the unemployment rate in countries such as Germany and Slovenia was twice as high among people with poor literacy skills than among those with average or high skills.
"Too many adults still fail to acquire even basic skills, with enormous effects on their individual lives and on their countries' economic and social well-being," UNESCO said.
The statement came ahead of a UNESCO-organized conference this month in Azerbaijan, which will focus on literacy in central, eastern and southeastern Europe.