Making Sense of the Shapes: What Do We Know About Literacy Learning in Adulthood?

Approximately 770 million adults worldwide are classified as illiterate, with women and individuals in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia bearing the heaviest burden of illiteracy. Despite the potential for adult education programs to bridge this gap, as well as decades of investment, such programs are often plagued by low enrollment, high dropout, and limited skills acquisition. While there is a relative paucity of economic research on adult learning as compared with primary and secondary schooling interventions, recent research in educational neuroscience and economics offers some insights into addressing the barriers to adult learning and some potential ways forward.

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