What is the difference between literacy and education?

The main difference between literacy and education is that literacy refers to a person's ability to read and write, while education refers to the process of acquiring knowledge, skills, values , morals , habits, and beliefs.

People often compare literacy to education. However, the two terms do not mean the same thing; Education refers to the overall development of a person in terms of their knowledge, intellect, behavior and sensitivity. Hence, literacy is only one step towards education.

Key areas covered

1. What is literacy - definition, characteristics 2. What is education - definition, characteristics 3. Similarities between literacy and education - overview of common characteristics 4. Difference between literacy and education - comparison of main differences

key terms

Education, literacy Difference Between Literacy and Education - Summary of Comparison

What is literacy?

In a broader sense, literacy refers to a person's ability to read, write, speak, and listen in a way that enables clear and effective communication. However, the perception of literacy can vary from culture to culture. For example, in the writing traditions of the English language, reading comprehension is an essential literacy skill, while communities that rarely read printed material may not need it.

Compare literacy and education

When you are a college student, you need literacy skills to cope with your life on a daily basis. If you lack the reading and writing skills, you will not do well in school, you will be cut off from the job market and as a parent you will have no chance of helping your own child with schoolwork. Most importantly, if you are a well-read person, you will be able to communicate clearly and effectively, keep up to date on current events, and understand the issues that shape our world

The development of literacy occurs both at school and at home. If you want to improve a child's reading and writing skills, it is best to develop their reading habits and get them to use the library more and more as children can read a wide range of texts to explore their reading skills and expand skills.

What is education

Education refers to the transfer of values ​​and knowledge from one person to another. In this sense it is similar to the concept of “ enculturation” popular in the social sciences.

Children are born without any sense of culture; Education therefore has the function of guiding them in acquiring culture, shaping their behavior and ultimately getting them to play their ultimate role in society. However, in the most primitive cultures, there is little formal education offered within formal educational settings such as schools with classes and teachers. Instead, the entire environment they live next to provides them with enough education and enables them to acquire the skills they need to survive in that environment.

Literacy vs. Education

Over time, societies have become more complex. This led to the men developing a more efficient and effective way of imparting knowledge and cultural transmission. The result was the facilities with teachers that enabled formal training.

Similarities Between Literacy and Education

  1. Literacy is only one step towards education. Hence, literacy can be seen as part of education.
  2. Literacy is an essential factor in measuring the level of education in a country.

Difference Between Literacy and Education


Literacy generally refers to a person's ability to read and write. Education refers to the process of overall development of a person and involves the acquisition of knowledge, values, morals, skills, habits and beliefs.


Education helps build a smarter person by giving them the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. In contrast, literacy is only one step towards education. Literacy can't always build a smarter person.

Long-lasting nature

As Frederick W. Robertson once mentioned, literacy can be forgotten, but education cannot. For example, most of us know how to bake a cake, but not all of us are recognized as bakers. To become a baker you have to have years of experience and good practice.


In short, the main difference between literacy and education is that literacy involves a person's ability to read and write, while education refers to a person's full development in terms of knowledge, behavior, and sensitivity. Even if a person can read and write, there is a high likelihood that their actions and behavior will not correspond to those of an educated and sensible person if they are not properly trained. Hence, literacy is worthless without proper education.


1. " Benefits of Education ". Global partnership for education. 2. “ What is literacy? National Literacy Trust.

Image courtesy:

1. " World map of literacy UNHD 2007 2008 " By Sbw01f - created (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia2. " Boys-Children-Children-Happy-Sitting-286245 " (CC0) via Pixabay

About the author: Anuradha

Anuradha holds a BA in English, French and Translation Studies. She is currently studying English literature in a second language context in the master’s course. Her areas of interest include arts and literature, language and education, nature and animals, cultures and civilizations, food and fashion.