Sweden Has a 99.0% Literacy Rate, Whats Going on There?

Its almost as high as my antiseptic liquid. Why is Australia so low?

Poll Options

  • 315
    They must have worked hard on educating their lowest denominator.
  • 29
    Maybe it isn't and they can't count that high.


    • +1

      In that case they would have a very low humanity rate. Please live in their shoes if you deem them to be sob stories.

    • +1

      It's funny because the truth is the exact opposite. The country with a real immigration problem is Sweden whereas Australian immigration "problem" is just a tool that political parties bring out when convenient. It's not a real problem.

    • +1

      you'd be surprised at how many foreigners have better english than australians…

      • Not surprised at all, used to work for IELTS and the number of bogans I'd see losing their shit that they got a 6.5 was too damned high. Plenty of these morons seemed to think being Australian(read white) meant 9.0 scores assured.

  • +8

    Literacy rate, as defined by UNESCO


    • The literacy rate is defined by the percentage of the population of a given age group that can read and write. The adult literacy rate corresponds to ages 15 and above, the youth literacy rate to ages 15 to 24, and the elderly to ages 65 and above. It is typically measured according to the ability to comprehend a short simple statement on everyday life. Generally, literacy also encompasses numeracy, and measurement may incorporate a simple assessment of arithmetic ability. The literacy rate and number of literates should be distinguished from functional literacy, a more comprehensive measure of literacy assessed on a continium in which multiple proficiency levels can be determined.

    For a person to count as literate — they just need to be able to read and write, which would explain why most developed countries have a literacy rate close to 100.

    This statistic by itself is functionally meaningless if you want to know how good our education is compared against Scandinavian countries, in which case you'd be looking at completely different metrics. e.g Enrolment rates, drop-out rates, transition rates, repeats, school life expectancy. https://ourworldindata.org/measuring-education-what-data-is-...

    • +2

      You truly are the best among us Scrim! May your house always have clean drinking water at a cool temperature.

  • +4

    Simples, Sweden is a European country, and like all European countries they are communist, and like communism it is fake news. The US system is the greatest in the world sieg heil! Now if you don't mind me I'm going off to drink some bleach…….

    • +4

      Don't forget if you inject disinfectant into yourself, that is meant to work too! I heard it from an old guy with great hair!

      • +2

        And shine some of that UV light into your system

        His hair wasn’t the only thing that was great

        • It's reported he somehow made his hair great again, you are correct!
          Such a [email protected] tard that guy, seriously, such a [email protected] tard!

        • +2

          That has to have been one of the funniest things Trump ever did. Sometimes it's hard to tell whether people really are stupid or are just good at pandering to their masses, but when Donnie took the stage and excitedly announced that UV light and bleach had been discovered to effectively kill covid - and that we just had to work on how to put those things inside our bodies, that should have been the moment when any doubt was removed.

      • +2

        I remember he had an "Orange" glow as well

    • all European countries they are communist

      Maybe Australia has a geography issue. Given the rolling lock downs vs Sweden I'd say we're closer to Communism than they are.

      • +1

        What do you mean Geography issue?

        And like, police enforced lockdowns is not really communism… at all, communists are the people saying we should defund the police.

        I think you’re confusing it with fascism

    • Wow 5 down votes, guess I must have up set a few supporters of the orange man sieg heil! 😂

  • +3

    Well we have low ATAR score requirements for teacher… what do you expect? The blind leading the blind.

    • true… the dumbest girl in my yr12 class said it was her dream to be a teacher… and she became one. We need to raise the ATAR requirements for teachers and ensure they get paid more

  • +14

    This will probably be an unpopular comment, but… Many Australian teachers are not the sharpest tools in the shed. Often they get into it because of a low tertiary entrance score, and despite what they say, teachers are very well paid (especially given the holidays). Some are excellent, and if there was a way to reward excellent teachers, we'd end up with better teachers long term. Many who are excellent also probably chose the job because they love it.
    To be fair to teachers, the products that they have to work with are often the result of poor parenting, so it can be a hell of a job.

    With regard to Sweden, I can't comment, so won't. But I've dealt with enough teachers in Australia to know many are sub-par.

  • Because they don’t have the average iq of a peanut?

    Too cold not to be in school, so almost all kids complete schooling rather than freezing to death probably has something to do with it. Along with societal standards that value basic communication skills.

    • +1

      Because they don’t have the average iq of a peanut?

      Higher Cultural values.

      They quickly learn the need for speaking and mastering multiple languages.

      Hence the need to master literacy and the ability TO READ !!
      Impossible to learn the language of their many neighbors if they cannot even read written text, Simple.

  • Miller said that a consistent finding from the report was that “there is no meaningful correlation between years of compulsory schooling and educational expenditures on the one hand and test scores on the other”.

    He believes that Finland, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden took the five top slots in the study because “their monolithic culture values reading”.


    The study looks suss to me if only because the US came in 7th after the Nordic countries and Switzerland. Monolithic culture values reading USA - I don't think so.

    • -1

      values reading

      I would think that is a universal value. Even people who don't speak or read English want to ask what that road sign (image only) means.

    • “their monolithic culture values reading”

      I think 'culture' is the wrong word. The statement suggests that culture is it's own entity, not a reflection of the people and the society in which it exists.

      I think that statement is sloppy and not well thought through: it doesn't answer the question, or at least seems to answer it by saying, 'people like it because they do.'

  • +2

    Stepping back from individual examples … because there will be exceptions to every case based on a catalogue of other issues … any country that is even vaguely wealthy is going to have literacy rates approaching 100%.

    These countries fund and require schooling to be undertaken until a mandated age that is well beyond the point at which the basics of reading and writing are learned. If you consider the Australian experience, even kids who aren't necessarily "the sharpest tools in the shed" will be more than competent in basic literacy by the age of 15. Those that are not have specific circumstances that mean they fall into the 1% "failure" rate.

    On the flip side, poor countries typically do not have these same systems, largely because they simply can't afford them. Accordingly, the education provided is often rudimentary, attendance is effectively unenforced, and therefore the basic level of education is simply not undertaken by large portions of the population. The workforce is then ultimately unskilled and deployed into low value-add industries. This has a twofold impact on generational outcomes … the money is not generated to pay for education, and the education is not valued as large sections of the population don't see the value in it against simply getting into employment of any kind.

  • +9

    You are fed lies in regard to Aust learning environment. Sure there are the pretty images of a Minister wandering around a nice, quite classroom. But, reality is, many teachers are in a battle each and every day, with haughty, contumacious utter brats. Teachers are assaulted, verbally, and physically. The Dep sweeps this under the carpet in effort to portray an orderly learning environment. Ask your kids what it is really like.

    • +5

      I learned a new word today: "contumacious" and I LIKE it! Any day where I learn a new word is a good day! Genuine thanks.

      • I remember the day I learned 'recalcitrant' from Paul Keating, and now I'll remember where I learned 'contumacious' too. Today is indeed, a great day.

    • +1

      Yup. Nothing wrong with the curriculum. Just the teach needs to try to deliver it with disruptive kids. These kids are disruptive because their parents decide to outsource their parenting duties.

  • Maybe their community expect their population to be literate. Ows kleerley dusunt…..

    • In Australia you can either learn to read or ride dirt bikes on community walking trails. A few percent go with the dirt bike option.

  • +1

    I believe Sweden has a living wage of a couple of grand per month and quite low poverty rates, that may help with literacy…

    • I believe Sweden has a living wage of a couple of grand per month

      Even if it is free money you need to be literate to get it. Imagine our government giving out living wage no questions asked - no reading required just leave a thumb print.

      • I was thinking that less kids would be raised in poverty which would have to help their literacy…

  • Why is Australia so low?

    so what is australia's literacy rate?

    • It's ~99% as well, but OP might have calculated a different number based on his/her own criteria, and considering people around him/her.

  • +1

    ~99% is the standard for all developed countries, and many developing countries too… It's similar in Australia, although some people still don't know the difference between they're/their and than/then, etc. Of course there are misspellings/mispelings as well, and people who literally don't know how to use "literally" in a sentence. No one is perfect, right?

    The right question is… Literacy rate is 19% in Niger. What's going on in there?


    Seriously, the criteria to calculate literacy are not very clear. I found an index used in Australia considering literacy in the 4th year, but indexes are often reported by countries that apply different methods. Moreover, how are migrants considered? Some countries have a significant proportion of migrants who might be fluent in other languages other than the official language in the country where they live.

    • It is interesting, I know the difference between they're/their and there. But when I am typing fast I find I seem to use "their" all the time and I have to consciously correct it when I notice, something I have done since I was a kid and never been able to get out of the habit of it no matter how hard I try. Used to really pi$$ off my english teacher as she hated giving me good marks while I made such basic mistakes repeatedly.

  • +1

    Because their public school system is notoriously amazing and they integrate immigration.

    • +1

      What does that even mean, especially considering at least 80% of the population are ethnic Swedes?

  • +4

    Why is Australia so low?

    Because of Bankstown

  • +3

    Why single out Sweden, when North Korea has 100%?


    • +2

      There are about 60 countries higher than Sweden.

  • +3

    Because bogan culture

  • A true social democracy

    Also, your poll options show what kind of person you are.

  • +1

    When you say Australia is so low, what number are you using and from where. The last result I saw had Australia at 99% as well (happy to be proven wrong/corrected).

    • +1

      It’s been 99% since at least 1990!

      • +2

        yeah that is what a thought. So we are comparing 99% to 99% and asking why one is so much lower. Perhaps people don't understand what is being measured here, it is just the very basic ability to read and write (not to do it well).

  • +1

    In my opinion, George Carlin got it right. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsL6mKxtOlQ

  • The Muppets chef says "hej that's a red herring! "

  • +1


  • Maybe they don't drink bleach, ingest anti-worm drugs for farm animals, or uppercut police horses.

  • I worked in a complaints role where the general public lodged complaints in writing. The proportion of the general public who can write well is extremely small, I was shocked reading many of the complaints, not because of the content, the grammar and spelling was at primary school level at best.

    • I know what you mean, just by reading the comments on Ozbargain

  • +1

    Finland has an even higher literacy rate at 99.2%.

    This is what a typical Finnish school looks like.

  • +1

    Too many lazy entitled kids here and equally lazy parents… Some countries are at school 12 hours a day and studying even when not at school education is everything to them unlike most here they care about McDonald's

  • +1

    Me fail English? That's unpossible

  • -1

    Australia's literacy rate is 99% as well.

  • I have had 'some' experience with the Swedish, and with being in Sweden. My opinion is that they are pure in the sense of avoiding artificial colours, preservatives etc. but drink an extreme amount of heavy alcohol, and bake themselves in the sun.
    Plus they have so many problems with sexuality. I would never use them as a yardstick. (IE Femininism castrates their men) . By the age of 40 the women look like men, and wonder why the men run to Thailand!
    They are definitely not the sharpest tool in the shed!

  • Sweden spends a LOT of money on education. I think it’s all public education too. They can afford to renew facilities because they have a very high tax rate which people generally don’t complain about. Corporate tax between 20.6% and 60.1% Personal income tax between 52.9% and 61.4% Sales tax 25%. They get a lot of bang for their buck (or Krona) including great, well-maintained educational facilities and a population who values education, thus the 99% literacy rate.INTERSTINGLY, AUSTRALIA’S LITERACY RATE HAS BEEN 99% SINCE AT LEAST 1990!

  • +1

    I see Read !

  • "What's" going on there

  • A relatively easy hurdle to achive in a developed country where:

    " It’s tax-financed, and compulsory from the age of 6.
    Swedish children go to school for at least ten years from the year they turn six"

  • Sorry can't answer, can't read your question.

  • Just be happy

  • Obvious answer is that the language is easy to learn, duh.

    Or the girls are a bit plain personality wise, as are the very pretty men, and so everyone sticks to reading books instead of boring each other with the smallest of talk.

  • I'm not surprised really. Those people who don't know how a virus works

  • +2

    First of all, education is still deemed as important in Australia, but we live in a society where the upper echelon aren't working towards maintaining or improving this.

    • It's evident from the tertiary education standpoint, it's a money making sector now.
    • It's evident with the abundant private schools we now have, because good quality education should only be afforded by those who can pay for it.
    • It's evident that teachers wages are capped, and it's a difficult sector to even get a fulltime job in unless you travel to god knows where.

    If you look towards some other countries where the education is important to their society, like Finland and Israel, there's a lot to be learnt.

    In Finland even the kids who are rich have to go to the same school as the poorer kids, it was intentionally done this way so that even if one day if Richie rich becomes the CEO of their father's business, they would have been connected and have been educated alongside poorer people. Furthermore, this is where being poor or rich gets you the exact same quality education. Their teachers are also well paid and well respected.

    It's an absolute sad state in Australia, either:

    • You're poor, so you live in a shit location, so you go to a shit school, surrounded by kids who don't want to study. Naturally these schools have teachers who have given up on the kids as well. You can't afford tutoring to catch up.

    • You are middle class, so a lot of your money has either gone towards tutoring your kids because the school they are at aren't teaching them well, or you buy or rent an overpriced house just to be in a good catchment so they can go to a good school surrounded by like minded kids who care about their education.

    At the end of the day, our system has shafted us.

    • You're poor, so

      So you know from day one to work harder than anyone else. Until you win. No silver-spoon on sight.

      You are middle class, so

      So you know it is all set and just do nothing and learn what new drugs your school friend's parents have bought. Learn to cry hard when failure catches up with you.

  • Everything looks like gibberish and occasionally I can make out a word that is horrifically misspelled.

  • Funny, almost nobody questions the Australian "around 5%" employment figurine.

    Why such a fuss with literacy numbers in faraway Sweden?

  • -1

    Theres no need for any gov to invest in education in Oz. You just scoop up the cream of migrant population from outside. All degreed up and ready to go. No tax dollars spent.

    That way you sh!t a few crumbs out in the form of funding for education, then blame the local kids for being leaners on the dole.

    Im a migrant who works in education day in day out i see kids doing one fingered typing and pressing caps lock for Capital letters and pressing caps again for small.

    Parents complaining that half a page of homework is causing trauma. Stem in highschools equates teaching coding in Minecraft.

    Anyway whole country is on its way to becoming a generation of [email protected] with 2 min attention spans. 2 out of 10 weeks theres no home work because its wellness week. Its a rort man.

    My son stood and watered the concrete last weekend while i scrubbed. After 3mins he drops the hose, walks into the kitchen and fires up the coffee machine. Tells his mum hes tired and needs a mental break. My own father would have grabbed the hose and given me a sharp one on the ass.

    Ah, the good old days in 85 when schoolyard bullying, combined with a healthy dose of racism and the principles cane would have battle hardened you. :)

  • +3

    Hello, I was born and raised in Sweden, graduated high school there and moved here for uni.

    I think the reason why we have a high literacy rate is mainly because school is mandatory for everyone below a certain age (though I believe it's the same for Australia, not sure) but, there's a couple of factor to also consider:

    • We get something similar to Centrelink but it's a fixed payment each month unlike Australia which takes into the consideration of the parental salary.
    • Free food. From kindergarten until High school, we get free food and it's buffet-style as well (imagine IKEA but buffet). The food is different everyday and are generally healthy food. When I first came here and spoke to students who recently graduated high school, I was in disbelief that australian schools doesn't have a cafeteria and the food had to be purchased AND it was all unhealthy stuff like meat pies and burgers(?).
    • Did I say school is free? Well. School is free. Everything from kindergarten to University, everything is free for us.
    • Did I say that we get free laptops? Yeah, the government issues free laptop to all students from primary school to high school. They're usually brand new (At least it started when I was in middle school so they could be reusing old laptops now) and you can purchase them for a major discount by the time you graduate.
    • We have a certain grade requirement for high schools, but its mainly high school takes those with best marks, thats only if they have an excessive amount of people applying for it. For those less popular schools, they sort of just take in anyone. We have private schools but private schools are actually paid for by the government so it's free regardless.
      Oh and we only have co-ed. The whole boys/girls schools to me just sounds like some kind of dystopian society stuff.

    Though we have a high literacy rate, it doesn't mean we're smart people lol.

    The school in a sense is very VERY forgiving unlike the Australian education system. We don't have HSC/VCE at the end of high school, the way high school is run is similar to how university in Australia is run. We have a number of units to complete each year and then whatever grade we get at that point is what will be part of our transcript. So we could finish say, English lvl 6 in year 10 and then we won't have to worry about it ever again.

    Not to mention, we have a lot of people who just are NOT doing that well, so there are special classes for those people. When I was in high school, these people were mainly either major dropkicks or immigrants.

    Despite the high literacy rate, I remember my teachers saying the average grades are one of the lowest in the entire Europe. It could have changed by now, but at least that's how it was about 5-6 years ago.

    Happy to answer more questions.

  • +2

    Sweden has one of the most socialised health and education systems in the world. That's why. But don't shout it too loudly because free health and education makes the media go absolutely wild…

  • It used to be the case that 50% of Tasmanians were illiterate due to remote farming communities and a strong primary industry.

    Not sure if that is still the case.

    From what I recall, the other states sit at 99% literate.

  • Wow. Didn't realise how bad it was in Australia.

    Australian adult reading levels
    Reading level…….Percentage of adults at each level (%)
    Pre-primary level (below level 1)…..3.7%
    Pre-year 1 to year 6 (level 1)………. 10.0%
    Year 7 to year 10 (level 2)………….. 30.0%
    Years 11 and 12 (level 3)…………… 38.0%
    Certificate IV (level 4)……………….. 14.0%
    Diploma and above (level 5)……….. 1.2 %


  • On a side note. I feel literacy has an important factor on comprehension.

    There was a study from Pew research, looking at the ability of adult American to tell facts from opinion.


    This is the quiz if you want to do it. it is just 10 statements

    • Got 5/5 for both categories, so guess I'm smarter than a 5th grader or something :)

      Surprised the percentages in their results were so low though (but it was only a 5000 person sample size)

  • If literacy is high, why is Ikea instructions in pictures?

    • Because it is for everyone else who doesn't live in Sweden, because they know these people aren't very good at reading.

      • Ingvar Kamprad is dyslexic I believe, that's why IKEA everything is simplified - even the name for the items.

        • Yes Karvvspläken is very simple name for a doorstop.

          • @AustriaBargain: Ding dong, there's languages other than English out there. The items are in Swedish, and most of them are very much straightforward. All couches are literally called "couch" for example.

    • +3

      I say it again:

      Why is Australia so low?

      Because of Bankstown

  • It's well known the Nordic states have socialist policies and tax rates leading to great education, health, welfare, and free public services. Interestingly they also have the largest amount of billionaires per capita. Funnily many of the billionaires blame the socialist tax rate that payed for the very education system that allowed them to gain the education to be rich.

    With its emphasis on individual learning and the personal liberty to enroll children in a diverse selection of schools, many perceive Sweden as a country with a phenomenal educational infrastructure. Higher education in Sweden is grant-aided and free of charge. State-funded institutions are not allowed to charge fees. This means that all Swedish students and students from the EU/EEA are educated free of charge. They also get a cheque from Swedish royalty every year who 'pays' for their study.

    Swedish compulsory schooling consists of four stages: förskoleklass ('preschool year' or year 0), lågstadiet (years 1–3), mellanstadiet (years 4–6) and högstadiet (years 7–9). Children between ages six and thirteen are also offered free out-of-school care before and after school hours.

    They are well known for looking after their underprivledged and poor even their criminals. Their prison system is very modern and reformist not punitive like our prisons and many inmates are free to come and go as they wish driving cars, and studying Computer skills for release. In fact they are much nicer than some of our schools and Universities dorms and have WIFI, Ethernet in each room and are like hotels.

    Thanks for listening to my TED Talk

  • Sweden does not have OzBargain

    • They have Swedenborgian

  • Much harder to become a teacher and teachers are paid a lot more too.

  • -1

    1% "southerners" by the sounds of things

  • We need ugly people in the world or else very few people will study math and science. Society will collapse. Ugly people are the backbone of society.