Dáil Éireann - Volume 550 - 20 March, 2002
Written Answers. - Literacy Levels.
Mr. Deasy Mr. Deasy
 99. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Science if he has instigated a special programme to combat illiteracy, particularly amongst young adults; his views regarding the rate of illiteracy amongst such people; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9226/02]WP leading adjustment
Dr. Woods Dr. Woods
Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): The 1995 OECD international adult literacy survey found some 500,000 Irish adults between the ages of 16-64 scoring at the bottom literacy level while 16%-17% of under 25 year olds surveyed were at this level.
The national adult literacy strategy was given top priority in the White Paper on adult education, Learning for Life, published in 2000. Investment in this area has increased 16 fold since the OECD report was published, from just over €1 million in 1997 to €16.460 million in the current year. The funds are being used to expand the scale and scope of provision, support awareness promotion, outreach, the development of referral networks and flexible provision, and to promote quality. New forms of provision, such as family learning, workplace learning, provision for special needs and for those for whom English is not the mother tongue, form part of the strategy, as well as optimising the use of TV and radio, so that people can access help in the privacy of their homes. The TV and radio programmes have been supported by the provision of free learner packs and a freephone helpline manned by trained tutors provided by the national adult literacy agency. Videos of the TV series are being made available free in adult literacy centres, training centres, libraries and video outlets.
Since the adult literacy budget was increased, participation in VEC literacy schemes has increased from 5,000 in 1997 to 22,733 in December, 2001. In addition to this, 235,000 people per week availed of help in their own homes through watching the second TV literacy tuition series, READ WRITE NOW. Preventative measures are in operation in first and second level schools. The results of the OECD PISA survey were published in December 2001. This was a survey of literacy, maths and science attainment levels of 15 year olds across 32 countries. While the maths and science results showed Ireland performing around the OECD mean, the results for reading literacy were particularly good, with Ireland ranked fifth out of all countries surveyed, and with only 11% of students performing at or below the bottom literacy level – level 1. This compares with 16-17% of under 25s in the previous OECD adult literacy survey performing at level 1.
Dáil Éireann 550 Written Answers. Literacy Levels.