Student advocacy

We learn from students

Adult literacy learning is most successful when students are actively involved in the process. Since 1980, NALA has ensured the views and experiences of adults with unmet literacy and numeracy needs guide and inform the quality of our work, and are heard and taken into account by policy makers.

We do this work through:

  • Student members on our Board
  • Student Subcommittee
  • Student Development Fund
  • Student Days
  • Student advocacy work


Student subcommittee

Our Student Subcommittee plays a central role in planning events and ensuring we hear student views. There are fourteen adult literacy students from different parts of the country. They meet seven times a year to discuss student issues and to organise student events. The Student Subcommittee also have a representative on the NALA Board.


Read more

Student Development fund

We have a fund that is available for student groups to pay for learning activities outside the classroom. These activities provide an opportunity for students to do and learn something new, and share experiences with fellow learners. Centres who receive the fund agree to gather student feedback for NALA.

In 2022, NALA awarded €40,000 to over adult literacy centres around the country.

Find out more about the Student Development Fund

Student days and webinars

Our student days provide a relaxed and fun opportunity for students from different education centres to come together and meet other students. Each event has a similar format, starting with interesting student and guest speakers, followed by workshops where students can learn something new. We also use the days as an opportunity to gather and share learner’s views and experiences of learning which we then share with policy makers. The events are organised by students for students.

In 2023, our Student Day took place in Galway in April with workshops including being wise online, creative writing and tips for living well. 

Find out more about the Student Day

Students in the media

Students are vital in bringing to life the literacy issue and motivating others, in a similar position, to seek help. NALA works continuously with a range of media, setting up interviews with literacy students and issuing press releases – indeed NALA receives its greatest volume of calls to its freephone whenever a student speaks on radio. In the last number of years adult learners have appeared and spoken on RTE’s The Late Late Show, The Afternoon Show, The Tubridy Show, Nationwide, Ear to the Ground and Virgin Media Ireland’s Ireland AM show.


Student advocacy work

Our work is strengthened by the involvement of adult literacy students. Students have campaigned at local, national and EU level to provide a level playing field for people with literacy difficulties. It was literacy student Ernie Sweeney that proposed that all election ballot papers include photograph of candidates as a visual aid to help the people with reading and writing difficulties to cast their vote without embarrassment.


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