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Literacy to be targeted with the 'priority it deserves' at local level

A new initiative will see local authorities form action plans to tackle literacy levels in local communities.

Image: books via Shutterstock

THE GOVERNMENT IS stepping up its efforts to improve literary levels across the country with a new programme focusing on local authorities.

The Right To Read campaign will see each authority adopt and implement an action plan, and also build a network of ‘key community stakeholders’.

“Many libraries have been providing excellent literacy supports for many years,” Minister for Housing and Planning Jan O’Sullivan said.

“What the Right to Read initiative will provide is a baseline for those supports.

One of the key early actions of the initiative is to review existing best practice in literacy supports and ensure that they are widely shared and implemented throughout the nationwide library network.

At the core of this campaign will be to develop a “integrated and sustained” approach in supporting people of all ages with literacy problems, and will be standard across the country.

It will also attempt to ensure the people who need the services are reached.

It will also examine how literacy initiatives can be incorporated into local sport and recreational activities.

Other measures at national level announced in the programme include:

  • The establishment of national steering group bringing together stakeholders from other Departments and agencies
  • An early review of existing best practice and identify those which are most successful and merit wider application
  • An examination how best to reach people with literacy challenges at all stages of life
  • To develop national guidelines for Literacy Action Plans
  • To establish the ‘Right to Read’ Champion Awards Programme.

O’Sullivan said this campaign has its roots in an initiative of the same name launched by Labour TD Aodhan O’Riordan during his time as Deputy Lord Mayor in 2006.

Irish adults are below the OECD average in literacy, with the results placing Ireland 17 out of 24 on the list in a survey last year.

Ireland’s numeracy skills are also below average.

Prompted by previous similar findings in international research, the Department of Education developed initiatives such as the Project Maths syllabus in schools.

Read: The 10 best books of the year (so far), according to Amazon >

More: Mobile phones found to help boost literacy rates in developing countries >

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Nicky Ryan

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