10 most literate nations in the world

Published: March 13, 2016
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Finland is the world’s most literate nation, according to new research carried out by John Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

Instead of employing the common practice of measuring a country’s ability to read, the study ranked nations on literacy achievement tests and also what it called “literate behaviour characteristics”, which included everything from numbers of libraries and newspapers to years of schooling and computer availability in the countries.

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The study set out to look at data from 200 countries, drawing from sources ranging from Unesco to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). However, only 61 made the final cut, “due to lack of relevant statistics”. Population was also considered to give per capita ratios.

The Nordic countries dominated the top of the charts, with Finland in first place and Norway in second, and Iceland, Denmark and Sweden rounding out the top five. Switzerland followed in sixth, with the US in seventh, Canada in 11th, France in 12th and the UK in 17th place. Botswana was last, in 61st place, behind Indonesia in 60th and Thailand in 59th.

The report discovered that if it only ranked nations on their reading assessment results, Singapore would top the list, followed by South Korea, Japan and China in second, fourth and fifth places respectively. Finland is the only non-Pacific Rim country to make the top five, in joint second place.

“When factors other than test scores are included, there is not a single Pacific Rim country among the top 25,” says the report.

According to Miller, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden took the five top slots in the study because “their monolithic culture values reading”.

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Finnish author Aki Ollikainen, said, “I have to say, that I´m very proud of the Finnish school system and also our libraries, which have very versatile collections available to all. Everybody has an equal opportunity to learn and to read. In Finland we are use to keeping this obvious, but globally it is luxurious.”

Here is a list of the top 10 most literate countries:

1. Finland

2. Norway

3. Iceland

4. Denmark

5. Sweden

6. Switzerland

7. US

8. Germany

9. Latvia

10. Netherlands

Top five by educational investment:

1. Brazil

2. Israel

3. Mexico

4. Belgium

5. Argentina

Top five by test scores:

1. Singapore

2. Finland

3. South Korea

4. Japan

5. China

By libraries:

1. Estonia

2. Latvia

3. Norway

4. Iceland

5. Poland

By newspapers:

1. Finland

2. Norway

3. Germany

4. Switzerland

5. Czech Republic

By households with computers:

1. Netherlands

2. Iceland

3. Denmark

4. Luxembourg

5. Norway

This article originally appeared on Guardian.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Guldar Ali Khan Wazir
    Mar 13, 2016 - 5:31PM

    Where Pakistan stands in terms of literacy today? We don’t exactly know what is our literacy rate, but it is said that Pakistan is 54% literate and is swiftly moving ahead to join the competitive race with the world states. Finland, a Scandinavian state, has achieved its top position among the world countries, not only on reading basis but on the basis of literacy. In Finland Literacy means that majority of its citizens are properly educated-and professionally trained. We also need to focus on our education sector and improve it and make it even enviable to attract a major chunk of population. The tragedy here is that the government is not serious in boosting the state and standard of education which is still at its lowest ebb. No doubt. our university education is at par with that of the foreign ones and is further gaining momentum. We should also heed to our primary and secondary education which is in decline even today. Once our key infrastructure is strengthened, further development is not a far cry. Recommend

  • Amir
    Mar 13, 2016 - 6:42PM

    So the madrassa educated people are not literate? Recommend

  • Arsalan
    Mar 13, 2016 - 7:21PM

    Education makes you a better person but sad to see that most of literate nations are against migrants and refugees so what’s the difference between them and illiterate nations then if they are going to be selfish!Recommend

  • Ajay
    Mar 14, 2016 - 12:46AM

    Where is Pakistan? I don’t see it on any list.Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Mar 14, 2016 - 5:02AM

    Who cares about literacy when you have tactical nukes and a prayer mat !Recommend

  • Mohammad Faizan Farooq
    Mar 14, 2016 - 9:57AM

    Alas Pakistan is sadly never featured on these lists. Finland and other Scandinavian countries feel like a breath of fresh air for the educated and literate whilst also having wonderful humanitarian policies unlike the scions of capitalism that is America. Recommend

  • Rollin & Trollin
    Mar 14, 2016 - 11:54AM

    @Arsalan:
    And pray tell, what are the GCC members doing to help those migrants and refugees ?Recommend

  • Asif
    Mar 14, 2016 - 12:40PM

    Please mention that Pakistan is on top 10 bottom of the list with likes of Afghanistan, Somalia etc. Though our politicians says we are “incredibly doing well”.Recommend

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