On 24 May vote to show #LiteracyMatters

May 24, 2019

Vote for councillors and MEPs who value adult literacy, education and lifelong learning

Ahead of this month’s local and European elections, the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) is calling for people to vote for councillors and MEPs who will support and invest in adult literacy, education and lifelong learning.

“In Ireland there are 445,800 adults who only have a primary level education or below[1]. In 2017, approximately 60,000 adults attended adult literacy tuition delivered by 16 Education and Training Boards[2]. This is only 11% of adults who may need help so councillors and MEPs need to look at new ways, including increased investment, to support adult literacy development in communities, families and workplaces,” said Dr Inez Bailey, CEO, NALA.

NALA wants each candidate running for local council to support three actions during their campaign and if elected. These are:

  • Each local authority should identify adult literacy skills as an issue and prioritise and develop local responses to supporting this.
  • Local authorities should develop an adult literacy plan as part of their next Local Economic and Community Plan (LECPs).
  • Local authorities should adopt plain English for all written, verbal and online communication.

NALA wants each candidate running for the European parliament to support two actions during their campaign and if elected. We want MEPs to:

  • continue to support the realisation of lifelong learning with priority given to those with low or no skills and or qualifications; and to
  • seek increased resources to support the delivery of the Upskilling Pathways agenda throughout Europe.

“We need to do more to ensure nobody is left behind when it comes to taking part in adult education.The most disadvantaged people are least likely to take up education and training, with low-skilled adults three times less likely to do training than adults who are highly skilled. This shows how the cards are stacked against people with low skills specifically those with literacy, numeracy and technology needs,” said Inez.

For further information, please contact:

Patrick Gleeson, National Adult Literacy Agency, pgleeson@nala.ie  01 4127916 mobile: 086 792 5363


Notes for editors

Literacy in Ireland

The most recent OECD Survey of Adult Skills[3] showed that 550,000 adults are at or below level 1 on a five level literacy scale while 750,000 adults are at or below level 1 for numeracy. One million adults are at or below level 1 on using technology to complete tasks. At these levels, people may not be able to fill in an application form, add up a bill, search the web, vote or help children with homework.

Throughout Ireland there are approximately 60,000 adults attending literacy classes delivered by the 16 local Education and Training Boards (ETBs). However this means that only 11% of people with literacy needs are accessing literacy services.

Upskilling Pathways

More than 61 million European adults have low qualification levels (lower secondary education at most). Around 1 out of 5 European adults struggle with basic reading and writing, calculation or using digital tools in everyday life. Without these qualifications and skills, they are at higher risk of unemployment, poverty and social exclusion. To address these challenges, a Recommendation on Upskilling Pathways was proposed by the European Commission and adopted by the Council of the EU. It sets out the framework to help adults acquire a minimum level of literacy, numeracy and digital skills and/or progress to acquire a broader set of skills and a qualification. The Recommendation is one of the key measures to implement the first principle of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which is about education, training and lifelong learning. It is part of the new Skills Agenda for Europe[4].

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