Nearly one in three people in the Arab world is illiterate, including nearly half of all women in the region, the Tunis-based Arab League Educational Cultural and Scientific Organisation (Alecso) said Monday.
Three-quarters of the 100 million people unable to read or write in the 21 Arab countries are aged between 15 and 45 years old, Alecso said in a statement.
Equally alarming, some 46.5% of women in the region are illiterate, the organisation reported, urging governments to put the fight against illiteracy at the top of their agendas.
While describing access to primary school education as "indispensable," it also urged Arab countries to focus on adult education to avoid "serious incidents in the evolution of [Arab] societies".
Alecso has previously sounded the alarm on illiteracy in the region, noting it had failed to meet a 1990 UN goal to halve adult illiteracy over the subsequent decade.
In July, Arab states adopted an action plan spearheaded by the group to promote education, notably through collaboration with key international organisations.
While illiteracy affects the entire Arab world, the more highly populated countries - such as Egypt, Sudan, Algeria and Morocco - are particularly vulnerable.