6.2 million adults unable to read and write German properly

The total number of Germans with poor literacy has decreased by 1.3 million compared with 2011, when 7.5 million people in Germany were found with poor literacy, according to a new study published by the University of Hamburg .

The “LEO 2018 – Life with Low Literacy”, shows 6.2 million adults in Germany were not able to read and write German properly, with more than half having German as their mother tongue

The study, commissioned by the German Ministry of Education and Research, finds that people with a migration background made up 47.4 percent of the low literacy group in Germany.

“The results of the new LEO study show that we have chosen the right path to increase the level of basic education for adults in Germany. This will enable more people to participate better in public and professional life,” said the German Minister for Education and Research Anja Karliczek.

Overall, 7.3 percent of all adults who had German as their first language had only limited reading and writing skills, the study finds. Of those with a different language of origin, however, 42.6 percent possessed limited literacy in German.

It also shows that adults over 45 years of age made up the majority of the low-literacy adults in Germany.

According to the German ministry of education, “progress” had also been achieved regarding adults who could read easy texts but struggled to spell at elementary school level. The 2018 study found that this number had fallen to 10.6 million Germans from 13.4 million in 2011.

Back in 2016, the German government and federal states proclaimed a national decade for literacy and basic education (AlphaDekade) to significantly improve the reading and writing skills of adults in Germany until the year 2026.

The German education ministry is funding the AlphaDekade with up to 180 million euros (201.6 million U.S. dollars) for information campaigns, studies and the development of new literacy projects.