NALA’s policy work

Since the 1980s we have worked in partnership with government departments, organisations, tutors and learners to advance adult literacy policy.  This work is supported by evidence-based research which examines international best practice, reviews Irish policy and produces recommendations to meet the needs of people with literacy difficulties.

How we work

To effectively tackle adult literacy issues in Ireland we need to work at many different levels. We do this by:

  • Learning from research;
  • Listening to learners;
  • Writing evidenced based policy papers and submissions;
  • Building relationships; and
  • Working in partnership with Government and their agencies, the Department of Education and Skills (DES), the ETBs, SOLASand others.

Our six policy recommendations in 2019

  1. Appoint a Junior Minister for lifelong learning and literacy.
  2. Develop a 10 year whole of government strategy.
  3. Introduce a Plain Language Act
  4. Provide high quality and relevant learning programme for people
  5. Develop new ways to improve learning
  6. Provide paid learning leave


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Education and training

Since it was established in 1980, NALA has consistently advocated for enhanced literacy education and training and better implementation.  NALA has identified five key priorities for the strategy to raise adult literacy levels and is working with SOLAS in the development of a Further Education and Training strategy, which will include a strategy for the development of adult literacy and numeracy.


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Access to public services

NALA believes that all citizens should have fair and equal access to all public services, that are delivered in a literacy-friendly way. It involves the organization including and respecting its staff and customers. It encourages commitment to delivering services in a literacy-friendly way by removing literacy-related barriers to access, participation and achievement.


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Literacy, employment and the workplace

Literacy and numeracy have a direct impact on employment, career opportunities and progression.

There are currently 335,700 people in the labour force who have a Junior Certificate level qualification or less, of which 5% have primary level or no qualifications (CSO, Quarter 1, 2013). Of this figure, 257,200 of these are in the workplace.

Since 2000, NALA has been working with employers, trade unions, state agencies and government departments to raise awareness of the issue and develop appropriate solutions.


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Family literacy

NALA policy work advocates that family literacy is developed within the contexts of all adult education and community services as well as the national literacy strategy for children.   This would enable schools, community and adult education providers work with parents to combat educational disadvantage for children and adults.

NALA recommends that a dedicated and significant funding stream be established for family literacy work, and that this should be accessed on the basis of a partnership between families, communities and schools.


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Health literacy is the best remedy

Supported by compelling research, our efforts to get health literacy on the policy map were successful and health literacy is now situated in the new population health framework, Healthy Ireland, which creates opportunity for greater commitment to building health literacy levels across all our efforts to build a healthier Ireland.

Health literacy and numeracy involves a person being able to understand basic health information whether they receive it in writing, in person or over the phone. It also involves a person having the knowledge to understand their options and make informed decisions about their own health.


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Current submissions

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