Labour Party TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has stated that the pressing issue of illiteracy in Ireland today cannot be addressed within the classroom alone. Rather, this is a matter which must be tackled nationally in people's homes and in the workplace. Deputy Ó Ríordáin was speaking after facilitating a briefing from the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) for the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Deputy Ó Ríordáin said: "First of all I wish to thank the representatives from NALA for taking the time to brief the TDs and Senators of the Labour Party today. I know from discussing this matter with my colleagues following the meeting that there is a real urgency within Labour about addressing this growing problem in our society.
"I believe that in order to tackle this issue we must create a culture of literacy in this country. We as a people have to create a climate where literacy is ingrained in every aspect of our lives. From the home to the classroom and on into the workplace, we must promote and strengthen our literacy standards. This is imperative for the simple reason that every citizen in this country should have a high standard of literacy to go about their daily lives. Whether it be reading the instructions on medication or reading a signpost on a motorway, we all benefit when citizens are equipped with the skills to make them more productive in this society.
"Further, I believe we can achieve our goals in this respect and I believe the Government can drive the change we all seek. This can be done by ensuring that every Government department and agency has a comprehensive literacy and numeracy policy in place. This can be achieved through extensive consultation with stakeholder groups such as NALA and the Department of Education. In addition, we can integrate literacy and numeracy into all publicly funded education and training.
"It is my belief that literacy is fundamentally a matter of equality and empowerment. I know from my time as a school principal in the North Inner City of Dublin how trapped and hopeless people can become. However, if we really tackle this issue by fostering a vibrant and comprehensive literacy strategy for both young and old, we will be giving people more opportunities to improve their lives and allow them to play a more active role in Irish society.