Minister Harris launches major 10-year adult literacy strategy

September 8, 2021

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today (Wednesday) launched Adult Literacy for Life – a 10-year adult literacy, numeracy and digital literacy strategy.

The Strategy aims to ensure that every adult has the necessary literacy, numeracy and digital literacy to fully engage in society and realise their potential.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “Ireland prides itself on being a knowledge-based society but there are still far too many people who struggle to read, write or have digital skills.

 

“Many are afraid to ask for help because of misguided shame and believing that there is a stigma attached to having unmet literacy needs.

 

“This has to change. It is clear we need to do more to address these unmet needs. We have to challenge the misconception that an inability to read, write or digitally communicate is a failure of the person. It is a failure of society and the State. But one I intend to address. We know that literacy is a form of power. So let us empower everyone in Ireland to be their best possible selves.”

The Strategy makes a number of commitments including:

  • Increasing in the number of learners engaging with literacy and language support by 20,000 by expanding the range of courses available over the first half of the strategy’s lifetime;
  • Reduce the number of people adults in Ireland with unmet literacy needs, from 18% to 7%.
  • Reduce the number of adults in Ireland with unmet numeracy needs from 25% to 12%;
  • Reduce the share of adults in Ireland without basic digital skills from 47% to 20%.

Minister Harris added: “We are not starting from scratch. We are building on the abundance of brilliant work going on nationwide in relation to literacy supports.

“What this Strategy will do is provide awareness to people about these supports, make these supports more accessible, and encourage people to come through the door. These supports are free of charge and people are waiting to help you today. I would encourage you to call Freephone number 1800 20 20 65.”

SOLAS CEO Andrew Brownlee added: “SOLAS was proud to be tasked with developing Adult Literacy for Life on behalf of Government and we would like to thank all of those who engaged with us to develop the ambitious roadmap that is now in place.

“It heralds a new approach to addressing unmet literacy needs, ensuring all of the stakeholders across Government, society and economy work together at national, regional and local level to ensure success.

“The new structures, systems and funds put in place to will be built upon with a strategy to ensure people can UNDERSTAND their needs and where to go to meet them. That they can ACCESS all of the learning and support they need. That the learning and support available can EXPAND to meet this massive challenge; and that we EMPOWER people and communities to make a real difference to their lives.

“The passion, commitment and insight of all who contributed to the development of the strategy was incredible, and we look forwarded to working with all of these stakeholders to deliver on the strategy and make a real difference to people’s lives.”

The strategy commits to establishing a major national campaign around literacy awareness and the support available and a one stop shop bringing together all relevant information and advice on literacy.

The Strategy will expand flexible and intensive literacy provision, including further development of standalone adult numeracy modules in accessible formats and with flexible levels of support; increase English language support for migrants.

It will also place an obligation on all public sector organisations; ensuring all direct communication with the public is in plain language.

For more information on Adult Literacy For Life, please go to www.adultliteracyforlife.ie.

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