New training and education authority (SOLAS) needs to address adult literacy and numeracy development

March 22, 2013

Details of the National Adult Literacy Agency’s response to proposed new SOLAS legislation will be announced at its AGM in Dublin tomorrow, Saturday 23 March.

The National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) is asking that the new education and training authority addresses adult literacy and numeracy development to keep it in line with national policy commitments. NALA argues that people with low educational attainment and poor literacy skills are more likely to be unemployed. Therefore it should follow that this issue is an important priority in the context of all new further education and training structures and systems.

The Further Education and Training (SOLAS) Bill 2013 provides for the establishment of SOLAS which will co-ordinate and fund further education and training in Ireland. The Bill also provides for the dissolution of FÁS.

Speaking in advance of the AGM, Inez Bailey, Director, NALA, said:

“SOLAS should develop further education and training in a way that redresses the Matthew effect, whereby people who need the most assistance are the least likely to be assisted.  Promoting equality of opportunity for all groups would ensure the optimum impact of public funding and tackle educational disadvantage.  This would be more inclusive of priority groups, including those with literacy difficulties, low or no qualifications, early school leavers, as well as the most vulnerable or hard to serve unemployed.”

NALA is also asking that SOLAS is required to consult with the beneficiaries of further education and training, that is, students, when developing its strategy. For example the new Board of SOLAS would be greatly enhanced if it included dedicated student involvement.


NALA responds to over 5,000 calls and 1,000 texts in 2012

In 2012, the National Adult Literacy Agency responded to 5,500 calls and 1,000 texts, answering questions and supporting people who had literacy difficulties and were considering returning to education. It also carried out three rounds of accreditation, delivering over 4,000 FETAC awards to 1,000 students. This was provided through its Distance Education Service that provides tuition over the phone and online.

“There are many barriers to returning to learning for people with literacy and numeracy difficulties, including the stigma attached to the issue and time constraints of attending classes. We organise awareness campaigns to break down these barriers and help make it easier for people to take up learning opportunities by providing a distance education service,” said John Stewart, National Co-ordinatorNALA.

NALA’s AGM takes place at 11am on Saturday 23 March 2013 in the Gresham Hotel, O’Connell Street, Dublin.

The National Adult Literacy Agency is an independent charity committed to making sure people with literacy and numeracy difficulties can fully take part in society and have access to learning opportunities that meet their needs. According to the last international survey, one in four – that is, about half a million – Irish adults have problems reading and writing. NALA is involved with tutor training, developing teaching materials, distance education services, policy making, research and campaigns to raise awareness of the causes, extent and responses to adult literacy difficulties in Ireland.


For further information contact:

John Stewart, National Adult Literacy Agency, 086 8260011

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