A functionally illiterate adult can read, write, and do basic mathematics calculations, but not well enough to fulfil all the tasks society expects of him. He lacks the skills required to function effectively in his community. He may have received little or no formal education, or his formal education may have been inadequate to the point that he remained functionally illiterate.
An 1997 OECD survey of its 12 member countries stated that, depending on the country, between 25% and 75% of the respondants aged 16 to 65 did not have a literacy level considered 'a suitable minimum skill level for coping with the demands of modern life and work.' Sweden had the highest functionally literacy level, Poland the lowest. There was no statistically significant difference among Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, UK, and the USA.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.