Illiteracy in Canada and UAE: a comparative look Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 25 September 2016

Illiteracy in Canada and UAE: a comparative look

In the following discussion we shall compare illiteracy situation in Canada and UAE. The UAE is a Middle Eastern country and Canada is a North American country. The economic base of Canada is stronger than UAE; Canada Spends More of GDP Ratio on Education than UAE.

The number of nationals (native citizens) in UAE is 825,495 which are almost 25.1% of the total population. On the other hand, expatriates and their families constitute almost 74.9% (3280932) of the UAE total population.

The Canada population was 33,506,421 in 2008.  Four out of 10 adult Canadians, age 16 to 65 – representing 9 million Canadians – struggle with low literacy ;  Considering those adult Canadians with low literacy, 15 per cent have serious problems dealing with any printed materials; an additional 27 per cent can only deal with simple reading tasks.

The illiteracy rate in the UAE declined to reach 23% in 2004 after it has been 48% in 1970.  The UAE’s illiteracy rate stood at 9% in 2005.the number of illiterates in UAE is 293293 and male number is 218101 and female is 75192.  The illiteracy rate in Canada is very high as compare to UAE; it stood at 40 percent. New Brunswick education Minister Kelly Lamrock said that Education ministers from the 10 provinces and three territories opined that 40 per cent illiteracy rate is an economic emergency blocking this country’s ability to compete in global markets. This illiteracy level did not allow the people to act effectively in the work place and it was really a silent economic killer. Awadh Ali Saleh of the Ministry of Education and Youth, who is working on the UNESCO program, says that illiteracy rate in UAE ranges between nine to 10 per cent of the population and he further adds that the interesting fact is that while illiteracy in other countries has hit girls in particular, here the percentage of illiterate males is higher than the females. In an article published on a website on May 05,2006 titled , Canada fails on adult literacy, it has been observed that In Canada Nearly 15 per cent of Canadians can’t understand the writing on simple medicine labels ; an additional 27 per cent can’t understand simple information like the warnings on a dangerous materials sheet. The proportion is more alarming for those in middle age. The numbers remain the same even if new immigrants are excluded.

            “A study by the Canadian Business Task Force on Literacy estimated the annual cost to business of illiteracy in the workforce at $4 billion and the cost to society at $10 billion. The group hypothesized that many errors required work to be redone and that many accidents in the workplace resulting in loss of life or property could be attributable to illiteracy.” (Susan Hoddinott,  1998 ).

Craig Alexander, deputy chief economist of TD Bank Financial Group says that the Canadian economy could enjoy a $32-billion boost if literacy rates were improved by only one per cent(Erin Millar,2007).

            In Human Development Report 2005: Dimensions of UAE Development it has been reported that illiteracy in UAE is more attributable to the special nature of UAE’s demography. The illiteracy rate is high in the expatriate population of UAE that is working in different sectors of the UAE economy. This report adds, “The large expatriate percentage (compared to UAE nationals) results in such percentage which gives an erroneous image of education in the country. Certainly, statistics conducted on UAE nationals, to the exclusion of others, will reflect a better education image”.

Both UAE and Canadian educational authorities are endeavoring to eradicate illiteracy from their countries. The UAE pledges to eradicate it completely by 2015. The UAE education minister, Al-Sharhan, in a speech delivered on the Arab illiteracy eradication day which fell on January 8, said that some 113 centers for teaching adults were started for this academic year that can include some 17250 learners. In Canada adult literacy campaigns are focusing on developing employment skills and knowledge. The public sector programs are involving volunteers to improve literacy situation in the country; the volunteering approach is being criticized because of its ineffectiveness in some cases. In UAE women are also working to eradicate illiteracy menace in the country.


1. ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation (2008). Adult Literacy Facts. Accessed on    May 14, 2009.

(2008). UAE pledges to eradicate illiteracy .  Accessed on May 13, 2009.Dylan Bowman2.

2. Education in the UAE (2004).  Steps Towards Solving A Chronic Problem. Accessed on May 13,2009.,1670,342-0-64,00.html

3. Erin Millar (2007). Canada is losing billions because of illiteracy: accesse on May 13, 2009.

4. Canada fails on adult literacy. accessed on    May13, 2009.

5. Susan Hoddinott (1998 ) .something to think about please think about this

Accessed on May 13, 2009.

6. (2003). National population set to achieve complete literacy in five years. Accessed on May13,  2009.

7. UAE’s illiteracy decreased to less 10% United Arab Emirates, Eduction(2001).  Accessed on May 14, 2009.

8. wikipedia  (2009). List of population of Canada by years. Accessed on May13, 2009.

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