In a Ministry of Education Survey of 1993 the rate of illiteracy was given as 3.5 percent. This figure compares with a figure of 32 percent, or by some estimates even 40 percent in 1930, and is evidence of the concern of successive regimes to increase the rate of literacy for cultural and economic reasons. Literacy campaigns were a marked feature of the Second Republic, though hampered by a shortage of schools and teachers, and during the Civil War the Republicans provided literacy classes and libraries to soldiers at the front via Cultural Militias, and to civilians via Flying Brigades. An era of censorship was ushered in with Franco's victory, but the propaganda value of the "right kind" of reading was not ignored, and the Women's Section of the Falange in particular were involved in the provision of literacy classes. By 1960 it is reckoned that the rate of illiteracy had dropped to some 15 percent. But this was still a high rate, and a successful literacy campaign was inaugurated in 1963 by the Minister of Education, Lora Tamayo. Priority was given to primary education, which was made free in 1965, the school-leaving age having been raised to 14 the previous year. As educational expenditure and participation in education increased, so the levels of illiteracy continued to drop, aided by government initiatives such as the Adult Education Service, which by 1985–6 was catering for nearly 150,000 students with a teaching staff of over 3,000. By the time of the 1993 survey, illiteracy was confined largely to those over 45 years of age who had not had the benefits of universal education, and had become a contributor to the generation gap, especially in families with children at university.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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