THE state's low adult literacy rate doesn't simply mean 49 per cent of the population can't read or write, according to the Tasmanian Council for Adult Literacy.
The council says the rate stems from a range of learning difficulties.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures revised in 2008, about 49 per cent of the state's adult population aged 15 to 74 do not have adequate reading and writing skills.
Council president Jenni Anderson said that did not mean that almost half of the state's population could not read or write.
``Some people might be quite competent in spelling but may not be able to do some maths,'' Ms Anderson said.
``Others can do numeracy very well but they may not be able to really understand or comprehend text.''
She said that the figures looked bad but it showed people had different ability levels and in various categories, such as prose, numeracy or problem solving.