In Britain one in every five adults is functionally illiterate or has inadequate reading and writing skills for average practical needs, revealed a report.
It means up to eight million people are so poor at reading and writing that they struggle in their daily lives. In a devastating condemnation of the British education system, they have difficulty reading a medicine label or simply using a chequebook, the Sun reported.
The findings by the World Literacy Foundation are contained in a report which focused on the world's wealthiest nations. Its chief executive Andrew Kay described the findings as "shocking" for Britain.
The US was found fourth-worst with 20 percent in "functionally illiterate" adults category.
British pupils have slipped from the world's seventh best in reading to 25th, according to a separate study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.