Rio de Janeiro, Sep 18 (EFE) — The illiteracy rate in Brazil dropped to 8.3 percent in 2013, but continues to afflict the impoverished northeastern region, where 16.6 percent of the population age 15 and up don't know how to read, according to an official study released Thursday.

The percentage of illiterates in Brazil has dropped almost constantly over the past 10 years from the 11.5 percent recorded in 2004, according to figures of the National Study by Household Samples, or PNAD. In absolute numbers, close to 13 million people out of a total of 201.5 million Brazilians are unable to read or write, according to the study.

The PNAD, prepared by the IBGE statistics agency, shows that in the northeast, illiteracy was around 16.6 percent in 2013, almost 6 percent less than in 2004, when the rate was around 22.4 percent. The proportion of illiteracy is particularly high among people over 60, 23.9 percent of the population, while it is almost nonexistent among the youngest segment, given that the rate stands at 1 percent in the 15-19 age group.

The study also showed a slight increase in the length of time Brazilians spend in school, which reached an average of 7.7 years. More than 98 percent of children between 6 and 14 go to school, but that percentage falls to 84.3 percent among teens 15-17, according to the PNAD. EFE