One in four Scots can’t read this

Away with ye fancy “Hooked on Phonics” nonsense, laddie! Scotland is suffering from an epidemic of illiteracy that is affecting as many as one in four adults, the GUARDIAN reports.

According to estimates by the Scottish government, up to 1 million Scottish adults are functionally illiterate, 400,000 lack the basic skills to hold a job, and 1.2 million can’t calculate how much change they should get when making a purchase. This is the first ever attempt to measure illiteracy in Scotland (it’s unclear whether that’s because no one in Scotland could do the required math until now). “The problem has got to the stage where it has to be addressed,” said Henry McLeish, the Scottish enterprise and lifelong learning minister. “It is unacceptable in a modern society.”

In nearby England and Wales, there are laws requiring that adults be provided with a basic education, but in Scotland it is discretionary. The shortage of people who can even operate a cash register is apparently having a drastic impact on Scotland’s economy, which has about the same number of job vacancies — 120,000 — as it does people out of work.