Special Release No. 193
About one in every 10 Filipinos 10 to 64 years old cannot read and write
According to the results of the 2003 Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS), about one in 10 of the population 10 to 64 years old cannot read and write or basically illiterate (Table 1).
Basic literacy rate among females is higher (90.4 %) as compared with males (86.8 %) (Figure 1). Among regions, NCR has the highest basic literacy rate with 97 percent. It is followed by Ilocos (Region I) and CALABARZON (Region IVA) with around 94 percent each. ARMM has the lowest rate with seven out of 10 persons aged 10 to 64 years considered as basically literate (Figure 2) and (Table 2).
In the 2003 FLEMMS, a self-administered functional literacy questionnaire was accomplished by persons 10 to 64 years old in order to determine their literacy status. Literacy was categorized into four levels based on the individual responses in the self-administered questionnaire. Persons who cannot read and write are considered illiterate (Functional Literacy Level 0 in Table 1).
Persons who can only read and write are considered basically literate (Level 1). Persons who can read, write and compute (Level 2) and persons who can read, write, compute and comprehend (Level 3) are considered as functionally literate. Hence, a functionally literate person is one who can read, write and compute or one who can read, write, compute and comprehend. Persons who graduated from high school or completed a higher level of education were automatically considered functionally literate in the tabulations.
Eight out of 10 Filipinos are functionally literate
In 2003, 51 million or 88.6 percent of Filipinos aged 10-64 can read and write. Of those who can read and write (51 million), 5.1 percent cannot compute or lack numerical skills (Table 1).
The 2003 FLEMMS revealed a functional literacy rate which is similar to the 1994 rate of 84 percent. Of the estimated 58 million Filipinos 10 to 64 years old, around 49 million are functionally literate. The functional literacy rate among females is higher than among males (86.3 % vs. 81.9 %) (Figure 3).
Among the regions, NCR ranks first in terms of functional literacy rate (94.6 %), followed by CALABARZON (90.4 %) and Ilocos (88.6 %). ARMM has the lowest functional literacy rate (62.9 %) (Figure 4).
As to be expected, functional literacy rate of the population increases with an increasing level of education. Nine out of 10 persons who had reached high school level but did not complete it are functionally literate. By comparison, eight out of 10 elementary graduates are functionally literate while around six in 10 persons with some elementary education are functionally literate. Only around two percent among those with no formal education are functionally literate (Table 3). Among those who have had at most elementary education, those who are in the age group 10-14 are more likely to be functionally literate than those in the older age groups.
With respect to age, the age group 20-24 has the highest functional literacy rate followed by the age groups 15-19 and 25-29. The age group 60-64 has the lowest (Figure 5).
About three out of 10 of the poor cannot compute or lack numerical skill
Survey results also showed that seven out of 10 of the population aged 10 to 64 years who are poor are functionally literate compared to nine out of 10 among the non-poor. In the 2003 FLEMMS, ownership of household amenities and conveniences were used as a substitute for income in order to classify the households into either poor or non-poor.
An examination of the data on functional literacy among the poor and non-poor populations in each of the regions shows that the functional literacy rate of the poor is lower compared to the non-poor. Regions in Mindanao generally show lower functional literacy rates among their poor population compared to most of the other regions. In four out of six regions in Mindanao, the functional literacy rate among the poor population is below the national average of 69 percent. Bicol (68.5 %), Central Visayas (69.2 %), and Eastern Visayas (64.3 %) have functional literacy rates which are lower than the national average (Table 4).