Campaign launched to encourage people to improve their literacy, numeracy and digital sills

September 6, 2018

Campaign launched to encourage people to improve their literacy, numeracy and digital skills

A public information campaign that helps people who have difficulty with reading, writing, maths or technology, will be launched today. The radio and video advertising campaign is called Take the first step and features the stories of several people who have struggled with literacy and numeracy difficulties throughout their lives. Each person’s story focuses on the benefits of returning to education with the aim of encouraging others to reap the rewards by doing the same. Watch the campaign here.

The most recent OECD Survey of Adult Skills showed that 550,000 Irish adults are at or below level 1 on a five level literacy scale. 750,000 Irish adults are at or below level 1 for numeracy. At these levels, individuals may not be able to fill in an application form, add up a bill, search the web or help children with homework.

The Take the first step campaign is managed by the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) and SOLAS, the State Further Education and Training Authority, with support from Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI). Adult Literacy is co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund (ESF) as part of the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020. Literacy, numeracy and digital skills are key elements of the European Union’s lifelong learning policy. The ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning provides over €90 million in funding for Adult Literacy courses from 2014-2020.

“Often people who return to education say the hardest part was making the first call or taking the first step into an ETB Adult Education Centre. The aim of this campaign is to encourage people to take the first step to get the help they need. We want people to know they are not alone and there are lots of options to suit their needs,” said Inez Bailey, NALA CEO.

Journalist Charlie Bird and author Sinead Moriarty will officially launch the campaign ahead of a conference to mark International Literacy Day in Dublin this Friday.

Nikki Gallagher chair of the Further Education and Training Authority National FET Literacy and Numeracy Awareness Advisory Committee and Director of Communications at SOLAS noted that “Literacy and numeracy skills are fundamental to personal fulfilment, active citizenship, social cohesion and employability. Evidence supports the positive impact of literacy and numeracy skills for individuals, communities and the national economy. SOLAS is proud to be part of the collective effort to enhance literacy and numeracy skills in Ireland,”

“Taking that first step or making that first phone call can indeed be the hardest part for people returning to education. By contacting their local Education and Training Board (ETB) they will meet trained staff in a safe environment who understand how difficult it is. I would encourage people to pick up the phone or call into their local ETB as the first step in transforming their lives,” said Siobhan McEntee ETBI Further Education and Training Enhancement Coordinator.

Attorney General to speak at International Literacy Day conference

Today, Friday 7 September, the National Adult Literacy Agency are organising a conference ‘Literacy Matters: challenges and solutions for communicating effectively with the public’ in the National College of Ireland, Dublin.

Speakers include the Attorney General, Seamus Wolfe; MB Donnelly, Data Protection Commission, Ireland; and Jennifer Hanrahan, Office of the Ombudsman.

Speaking before the conference, the Attorney General Seamus Wolfe said: “Low literacy levels are much more common than is often thought, and this should be more widely recognised in the legal system. The law and legal system is an example of an area where language used can be confusing for individuals, whether due to unfamiliar phrases or unusual practices. While accuracy and precision must be achieved, wherever possible plain language should be used. It is good to see conferences such as this which aim to highlight what both legal and non-legal systems and organisations can do to better help all individuals to fully understand what is being communicated to them.”

Friday’s conference will show how low literacy levels in Ireland affect the lives of individuals, the wellbeing of society and the economy. It will show how individuals and organisations can be more effective in how they meet the needs of those who need their services.

For further information, please contact:

Clare McNally, National Adult Literacy Agency,, 087 648 6292
Patrick Gleeson, National Adult Literacy Agency, 086 7925363
Jennifer McCormack,, 087 236 2989

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