However lacking basic education skills or been analphabetic and a public discussion about the issue has been a taboo in Austrian society for a long time. The estimated data of the following institutions illustrate the veiled problem. The UNESCO estimates, that about 300.00 to 600.000 grown-ups in Austria are in need of basic education.
Dressed in numbers more than 40 per cent of Bulgarian ninth-graders are functionally illiterate, according to the latest report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development programme for international student assessment (PISA). About eighty thousand Bulgarians cannot read or write, according to Education Minister, Sergey Ignatov.
According to OECD’s criteria every fifth Dane (around 1,5 mio. people) has difficulties reading and almost half of the adult population between the age of 16 and 66 cannot read sufficiently. 7 % of all adult Danes perceive themselves as dyslexic.
3,100,000 people, some 9% of those aged between 18 and 65 who have attended school in France, are illiterate (IVQ survey, 2004-2005 INSEE ANLCI). Every year, the tests taken during the defence and citizenship information day reveal that nearly 5% of boys and girls aged 17 are illiterate (JAPD 2009, Ministry of Defence).
According to a study undertaken by the University of Hamburg, presented in Berlin on the 28th of February 2011, 14% of Germans between the ages of 18 and 64 are affected by “functional illiteracy”. That is 7,5 million people of working age. This means: 14% of the population of working age can only read or write individual phrases but not coherent or even short texts.
According to the last international survey, one in four or 25% of Irish adults have literacy difficulties. Currently in Ireland up to 30% of children from disadvantaged areas leave primary school with literacy difficulties.
Figures about the matter are published in the Human Development Report, by the UN: Italians that have problems with functional illiteracy are the 41% of the population. The subject is huge and it is not linked only to poverty or unemployment. It seems that the general Italian situation has worsened between 2009 and 2010. It is more likely a problem linked to the educational system and to media alternatives: in a country with a lot of television, challenges to improve one’s ability to read and write are less important than elsewhere.
In 2007, functional illiteracy in the Spanish population of working age had been reduced a 50% since 1980. It was a 23.7% and was reduced to 11.9%. In 1980, regional differences in terms of functional illiteracy were very significant. While some Regions, such as Cantabria (5.5%) and La Rioja (7.4%), had very low values, others, such as Castilla-La Mancha (38.2%) and Andalusia (36.4%) exceeded the national average.
According to a preliminary report released by the World Literacy Foundation, the estimated cost of illiteracy to the UK economy is £81.312bn each year. The report draws figures from the money spent of welfare and unemployment benefits, estimated to be £23.312bn. It explains that illiterate people are more likely to be claiming such benefits because there is more chance of them dropping out of high school and / or being unable to find work.
In Switzerland, which has a population of 7.5 million, almost a million people of working age have difficulty reading and writing. An estimated 600,000 people with literacy problems in Switzerland are integrated into the labour market or are looking for employment, roughly one in six of the total workforce. Illiteracy is not only a burden for those who have difficulty reading or writing – the economic damage is estimated at SFr1.1 billion ($900 million) a year.