Despite the gigantic strides which Science is taking today, the vast majority of the world’s population remain illiterate—a tragic commentary on our civilisation. The latest U. N. Report on illiteracy reveals certain grim facts. Two-thirds of the world’s population are incapable of reading a newspaper. The number of adult illiterates in the world “may increase rather than decrease in the near future.” The reason for this unhappy state of affairs is that the growth of the world population is such that it outstrips the pace of the literacy drive! In other words, despite all the brilliant inventions which Science has placed at our disposal we are unable to make the majority of men and women, especially those living in Asia and Africa, read and write. Today the number of such illiterates has reached the staggering total of 700 million. The UNESCO, the organisation which has as one of its aims the combating of illiteracy, has not been very successful in its efforts. Literacy is the world’s barometer of progress. A man, who is denied education, lives in mental darkness. Until such time as there is a world organisation with sufficient funds to deal with illiteracy there would seem to be little hope for the 700 million people who are mentally blind. At present such hope seems remote, with the Great Powers worrying more about weapons of war than people’s mind.
(EDIT, October 15, 1957.)