Interpreting the state of literacy in the English-speaking Caribbean



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This paper is the first working document of a larger study on literacy in the English speaking Caribbean. It examines the data available in the censuses of 1943/46 and 1970 to determine whether the popular view that rates of illiteracy in the Caribbean are not substantial is tenable. The data 1943/46 are used to provide a basic statement of the distribution of illiteracy geographically, with different ethnic and ethno-linguistic groups, as well as among males and females. From the data of 1970, the potential pools of illiterates are determined. Finally, the validity of the size of the potential pools is tested by reference to a sample survey conducted in Jamaica in 1975/76. The results suggest that the problem of illiteracy is much larger than assumed, and that further detailed study of the size of the illiterate population must be undertaken to ensure that achievements towards the goal of literacy are not eroded by the failure of all but one government to treat the matter as one of high priority.


For presentation the Third Seminar on Education and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, Quito, Ecuador, 19th-23rd November, 1979

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