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Government Fulfills Pre-Election Pledge to Deal with Literacy Problems

8th July 2011 - Senator Anthony Lawlor

“I warmly welcome the launch today by Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn of the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy. During the General Election campaign, the now Government parties both identified the need to effectively address literacy problems in Ireland. It is therefore no surprise that in Government the aim is to ensure that every child leaves school having mastered literacy and numeracy. This strategy is a huge step in the right direction and the fact it is being introduced so soon after coming into power, highlights the Government’s commitment to such matters”, said Kildare North TD, Anthony Lawlor.

The Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life strategy outlines a number of ambitious targets to be achieved by 2020. These targets generally aim at improving the performance level of pupils in primary and post primary schools beyond that which they are currently achieving. This initiative also aims at improving early childhood and public attitudes to reading and maths.

To achieve these goals, teachers and schools will be encouraged to maintain a strong focus on numeracy and literacy skills which will commence by reforming teacher education courses and the curriculum at both levels. Furthermore the number of examinations taken at Junior Certificate will be limited to 8 in order to focus on student’s literacy and numerical skills.

“People who display poor literacy and numeracy skills are often those most inclined to find themselves excluded from society, unemployed and affected by poverty; circumstances more prevalent during eras of economic crisis. In 2009 it was found that Ireland ranked 17th out of 34 OECD countries in terms of literacy skills and ranked 26th with regard to performances in mathematics. More worryingly, 17% of all Irish fifteen years olds and almost one in four teenage boys lack the literacy skills to function effectively in today’s society. Furthermore about one-fifth of Irish students did not have sufficient mathematical skills to cope with every-day life and Ireland also had significantly fewer high performing students than other countries.

“It is essential that Irish children are given the opportunity to improve on these international rankings, which the National Literacy Strategy will target. It will also ensure that they are in a better position to deal with all future economic conditions” concluded Anthony Lawlor TD.

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