Literacy rates or the number of school enrollments (elementary and high schools, colleges, universities), differentiated by sex and age groups, constitute the core of education statistics.
A country's literacy rate provides deep insights in its present and future economic force. Comparisons of historic literacy rates give an idea: By 1870 Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Mexico attained literacy rates of around 20% (Ferranti et.al., p. 65), compared to literacy rates of around 80% in Australia, Canada, Sweden and the United States. 146 years later, the latter ones belong to the most developed countries worldwide while the others are still developing.
Even today they lag behind the mandatory rate of 100%.
"Education is defined as organised and sustained communication designed to bring about learning."
David de Ferranti et al., From natural resources to the knowledge economy: trade and job quality, 2002