Eight in Ten Filipinos are Functionally Literate (Results from the 2003 Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey)

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Release Date: 

Friday, February 11, 2005


Of the estimated 57.6 million Filipinos 10 to 64 years old, about 48.4 million or 84 percent are functionally literate, according to the results of the 2003 Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS). In this survey, a self-administered questionnaire was accomplished by persons 10 to 64 years old in order to determine their functional literacy status. Functional literacy is a higher level of literacy which includes not only reading and writing skills but also numerical and comprehension skills.

The 2003 functional literacy rate is similar to the 1994 rate (83.8 percent). Among the regions, NCR ranked first in terms of functional literacy rate (94.6 percent), followed by CALABARZON (90.4 percent) and Region I (88.6 percent). ARMM had the lowest literacy rate (62.9 percent). The functional literacy rate among females was higher than among males (86.3 percent vs. 81.9 percent).

As to be expected, functional literacy rate was higher among those who graduated from elementary than among those who attained a lower level of education or who had no formal education at all. Of those who had reached high school level but did not complete it, 89.5 percent were functionally literate. By comparison, the functional literacy rate among those who graduated from elementary was 81.6 percent, while it was 64.7 percent among those with some elementary education and only 2.4 percent among those with no formal education. In the survey, persons who graduated from high school or completed higher level of education were considered as functionally literate.

The 2003 FLEMMS is the third in a series of functional literacy surveys conducted by the National Statistics Office. The previous rounds were conducted in 1989 and 1994. It covers a national sample of about 25,697 households and 75,558 individuals aged 10 to 64 years. The survey aimed to provide information on basic and functional literacy status and exposure to mass media of the population. It was conducted in coordination with the Literacy Coordinating Council (LCC) and the Department of Education (DepEd).