Africa’s Most Literate Countries – Part 2

The adults from Principe and San Tome reported a lowly literacy rate of 57.3 per cent in 1981.

Africa’s Most Literate Countries – Part 2

The country has previously seen huge problems with its educational system, which includes poorly trained teachers, an unacceptable number of classrooms, and low graduation rates and enrolment levels. More recently, however, the government has invested more in education and made it mandatory to receive primary education, which has been reflected in the current rate of adult literacy. Mauritius, Namibia, and Libya are tied for Africa’s third most literate countries, with their 91 per cent literacy rate.


Mauritius has also seen increased literacy rates, which currently stand at 91 per cent. Literacy was reported at just 79.9 per cent in 1990. It increased to approximately 84.3 per cent in the year 2000, which was Africa’s hugest rate at the time. It has since fallen to tie third on this list since then but that’s solely down to the fact that other countries have made impressive leaps.


Namibia’s current literacy rate of 91 per cent is a huge improvement from years past. The number stood at just 76.5 per cent in 2007 and 89.4 per cent in 2001. The improvement is largely down to The Ministry of Education’s National Literacy Program. Further, the Namibian government has invested more in education. In 2013, Namibia allocated 29 per cent of its federal budget to public education.


Libya’s 91 per cent literacy rate is a vast improvement over the number that was previously reported, in 1921, for example, while Italy still controlled the country, a mere two per cent of all adults were able to read and write. However, by the mid-20th century, the government decided that it needed to do something in order to improve education, and in 1969, after the al-Fateh revolution, Namibia chose to prioritise adult education.

The country now employs a number of prevention methods to eradicate illiteracy, such as making school a requirement for children, as well as reactive methods that include adult literacy centres opening in each district.


Just three decades ago, Botswana’s literacy rate was below 70 per cent. Today, however, it’s Africa’s fourth most literate country, with 88 per cent of the people aged over 15 having an ability to read. This is the result of the dedication that the Botswana government has shown in improving its education. It’s also a testament to the National Literacy Programme. The programme, which began in 1977, has made impressive strides in reaching out to Botswana’s illiterate adults.


Like other countries mentioned in this list, Zimbabwe has reported a progressive increase when it comes to literacy rates. In 1982, just 77.8 per cent of the country’s adults were regarded as being literate. With today’s 87 per cent literacy rate, the country boasts a 3.79 per cent average annual literacy growth. Swaziland ties with Zimbabwe as Africa’s fifth most literate country, making it one of the biggest improvements of literacy rates among adults.