NALA’s policy work in education and training

NALA advocates that all adults with literacy, numeracy and digital needs and or less than a Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) Level 4 qualification should have access to a high quality and relevant learning programme with a local education and training provider that meets the person’s literacy development needs.

Why we need literacy development in education and training?

Literacy changes lives and we know that in 2017 only 62,736 adults with literacy needs (12%) are accessing adult literacy services. That means there are 457,000 adults who have unmet literacy needs, many whom are in the workplace and in some further education and training (FET). 

Currently adults (both working and unemployed) can usually only access between 2 and 6 hours adult literacy tuition per week (through the ITABE programme – Intensive Tuition in Adult Basic Education) or a Back to Education Initiative part-time course if available. There is a current gap in intensive or full-time provision for the number of adults who need effective supports and pathways. 


 1 Answer to parliamentary question number 350 on 15 January 2019 https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2019-01-15/350/#pq_350

In the context of further education and training (FET), NALA works to ensure that FET courses are inclusive of, and effective for, adults who may have language, literacy or numeracy needs. This is called ‘integrating literacy’. ‘Integrating literacy’ means designing and delivering courses in ways that remove unnecessary literacy barriers and that develop the key course-related language, literacy and numeracy. It requires education and training providers to take a whole-organisation approach to literacy. 

What have we achieved so far?

We have achieved:

  • New innovative models of delivering adult literacy, such as Intensive Tuition in Adult Basic Education (ITABE) programme, workplace basic education.
  • Developing and supporting an implementation plan for integrating literacy and numeracy in all further education and training provision.
  • Raising awareness of and delivering literacy through the media – radio and television.
  • Offering distance learning opportunities for learners.

What do we need now?

NALA believes in greater access to literacy supports for all adults with unmet literacy, numeracy and digital needs and or less than a QQI Level 4 qualification. They should have access to a high quality and relevant learning programme with a local education and training provider that meets the person’s literacy development needs. 

NALA recommends the following: 

  • More intensive and flexible options are made available to learners.
  • Giving appropriate supports as required such as income, transport, child and elder care.
  • Offering work placement where appropriate and progression opportunities. 
  • Increased investment in the Skills for Work programme to target employees with unmet literacy and numeracy needs in particular sectors. 
  • Developing new and innovative ways to improve literacy such as: 
  • blended and distance learning, 
  • family literacy, financial literacy, health literacy and media literacy programmes,
  • bridging programmes to prepare people for other training, and integrating literacy into vocational education and training programmes.

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