Myanmar: Literacy by Listening


Bible Society Australia is supporting the Bible Society of Myanmar in running a mother tongue literacy program for the Sgaw Karen ethnic group.

The population of Myanmar is about 54 million, with between 80% – 89% practicing Buddhism. Christians constitute around 6.2% of the population. The government recognises 135 different ethnic groups and estimates that there are about 200 spoken languages in Myanmar.

While literacy rates across the country have improved dramatically in recent decades, there are still many people who need access to an education in literacy. To date, the government has not encouraged literacy development for ethnic minority groups in their respective mother languages. The Sgaw Karen ethnic group have the largest Christian population among the ethnic minorities, and the biggest population. Surprisingly, there are many non-literate Karen communities, particularly in remote areas.


  • 54 million population in Myanmar
  • 6.2% of the population are Christian
  • 53% of the Sgaw Karen are Christian
  • 45% of the Sgaw Karen are non-literate

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