Africa’s Most Literate Countries – Part 1

Literacy not only improves our ability to live a normal life in a world that is becoming more and more communication driven. It also provides more professional opportunities for people to improve their income and see their families rise from low-income conditions. Skills, in turn, have been linked with increased involvement in politics and enhanced public health conditions.

Let’s look here at Africa’s most literate countries. Tied for first places of Africa’s most literate countries are South Africa, Equatorial Guinea, and Seychelles. These countries have a 95 per cent literacy rate in a population of more than 15 years of age.

South Africa

Despite this country’s 95 per cent literacy rate, a number of researchers have reported that there’s a decline in literacy among younger people. Surveys revealed that 29 per cent of 4th-grade students are illiterate, with another 48 per cent failing when it comes to reading comprehension. Researchers indicated that part of the problem is based on the country’s multilingualism. Around 70 per cent of students, for example, in the first through third grades are taught in an African language. However, when they advance to the fourth grade, they’re suddenly taught in English. As these children have yet to be taught reading comprehension in African and have yet to achieve fluency in English, it’s a far greater challenge for them to achieve literacy. If the issue with illiteracy continues, South Africa’s literacy score could decline.

Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea’s literacy rate is approximately 95 per cent for both genders over 15 years of age. When taking into account people 15-24, the literacy rate rises to 98 per cent. There has also been much progress in the country towards Education for All goals, which managed to achieve a preschool enrolment rate of more than 70 per cent in 2015. This ongoing bid to boost education will likely result in improve literacy rates in the future.


Of all the countries in the 95th percentile, there is is just one to have achieved all six goals established by the UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation) Education for All program. The goals, which had been set with a 2015 deadline, included the following goals: address adult and youth educational needs, classrooms promoting gender equality, a 50 per cent rise in adult literacy, improved education among children, enhanced quality of education, and the development of free primary education. The Seychelles government started to promote literacy among adults in the 80’s, a decade that also saw the introduction of free public education. Each of these actions in education has contributed to Seychelles becoming one of African’s more literate countries.

Principe and Sao Tome

Principe and San Tome has Africa’s second highest literacy rate. An impressive 92 per cent of people over the age of 15 are able to demonstrate both reading and writing comprehension. That percentage is an impressive improvement over the literacy rate in 2008, which stood at just 69.5 per cent, so the progress is clear.

Principe and Sao Tome