The Reading Professor

Presenter Information

Saumendra Nath DeFollow

Document Type



The right to education has been recognized as a basic human right in a number of international conventions including the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The issues of fairness, equal opportunity, and equity in education, however, continue to plague the educational world. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (2017), there are 750 million illiterate adults in the world, six out of ten children and adolescents are not learning globally, and low-income countries are home to a disproportionately large share of children and adolescents not learning. A plethora of demographic factors affects equity in education. This article discusses how the personal and social circumstances arising from acute poverty, low socio-economic status, gender, race, ethnicity, low parental education, and a multiplicity of socio-political milieu have impacted literacy achievements of children and shaped the literacy divide among the world. The impact of demographics on the equity of education has obvious policy implications. Attention is drawn on the overarching importance to understand and acknowledge how demographics affect education and how the repertoire of knowledge on these demographics can be utilized by the policy makers and educators for necessary adaptations and accommodations to derive policies, teaching practices, and interventions that promote equity in global literacy education.