“I have Roy Keane and Niall Quinn to thank for my reading bug.”

March 7, 2019

Adult literacy student Michael Duffy says he has Roy Keane and Niall Quinn to thank for his reading bug

Adult literacy student Michael Duffy might be the one person in Ireland who can see the positive side of Roy Keane’s decision not to take part in the World Cup in 2002. The now notorious Saipan debacle was the reason Niall Quinn’s ‘World Cup Diary’ became the first book Michael ever read after returning to adult education to improve his literacy skills.

As today is World Book Day, Michael says that he hopes other adults with literacy difficulties get to experience that joy of reading their first book.

“I read Niall Quinn’s book for a class assignment in my local Adult Education Centre because I really wanted to get the inside story about what happened at the World Cup. I hadn’t read a book before and I’ll never forget how good it felt when I finished it. Up until then I had always avoided books because I had difficulties reading and writing. I caught the reading bug after that and it’s now one of my main hobbies. Books will open up a whole new world for you no matter what age you are, whether you’re 52 years old or five years old,” Michael says.

To help more adults improve their literacy skills, Michael is taking part in the National Adult Literacy Agency’s (NALA) ‘Take the first step’ awareness campaign. The campaign uses real-life stories of students to encourage people who have difficulty with reading, writing, maths or technology to get the help they need.

RTÉ promotes ‘Take the first step’ campaign
RTÉ will be supporting the campaign by promoting ‘Take the first step’ videos across RTÉ TV, radio, online and social media for the month of March.

“We are delighted that RTÉ are supporting ‘Take the first step’ as the campaign represents a very important public service message. Often people who return to education say the hardest part was making the first call or taking the first step into an 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,” says Dr Inez Bailey, CEO, NALA.

The ‘Take the first step’ campaign aims to encourage adults who have difficulty with reading, writing, maths or technology to contact a Freephone support line 1800 20 20 65 to get the help they need. Once they make contact NALA will put them in contact with their local ETB Adult Education Centre or tell them about other free services that will meet their needs. This includes NALA’s Distance Learning Service where tutors work with people over the phone to improve their reading, writing, maths or technology skills.

For media queries please contact:
For more information, or to arrange an interview with Michael Duffy or Inez Bailey, contact Patrick Gleeson, Communications Officer, NALA, 01 412 7916 / 086 792 5363 or pgleeson@nala.ie

Notes for editors
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, and over one million adults are at or below level 1 on using technology to complete tasks. At these levels, individuals may not be able to fill in an application form, add up a bill, search the web, vote or help children with homework.

The survey showed that people with the lowest skill levels have low educational attainment, earn less income and are more likely to be unemployed. They also risk being trapped in a situation in which they rarely benefit from adult learning, and their skills remain weak or deteriorate over time.

Currently in Ireland there are 50,000 adults attending literacy courses in ETB adult education centres nationwide.

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