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NALA Information Leaflet - Facts and Figures About Literacy

NALA Information Leaflet - Facts and Figures About Literacy

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Published by: nala_finance on Mar 10, 2010
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Literacy increases the opportunity
\ue001or individuals and communities to
re\ue000ect on their situations, explore new
possibilities and initiate change.

Facts and
fgures about

NALA\u2019s defnition o\ue000 literacy:

Literacy involves listening and speaking, reading, writing, numeracy and
using everyday technology to communicate and handle in\ue001ormation. But
it includes more than the technical skills o\ue001 communication: it also has
personal, social and economic dimensions.

Literacy increases the opportunity \ue001or individuals and communities to re\ue000ect
on their situation, explore new possibilities and initiate change.
The \ue000acts:
How important are good literacy skills?

Literacy and numeracy skills are part o\ue001 everyday li\ue001e. Think o\ue001 all the notices
and signs around us, how we use money every day, use the internet and
send text messages. Everywhere we go we are \ue001aced with text, numbers and


Literacy has an important role \ue001or the individual, the worker, \ue001amily member
and the citizen. Most people have some literacy and numeracy skills, but
they can vary in di\ue001\ue001erent situations. For example, a person might have high
levels o\ue001 literacy in completing a \ue001orm but low levels o\ue001 literacy when fguring
out the instructions \ue001or using a DVD player.

Those with signifcant literacy di\ue001fculties are likely to have di\ue001fculty carrying
out day-to-day tasks that involve literacy. These might include:

u\ue000writing a shopping list,
u\ue000reading a health and sa\ue001ety notice, or
u\ue000flling in a driving licence application \ue001orm.

NALA\u2019s view is that while literacy is clearly linked to economic development and employment, it must not be limited to issues o\ue001 economics. Literacy is deeply connected with the rights o\ue001 individuals and communities: it is about

their right to have a voice in society; to continue and extend their education;
to read and to be read.
What is the extent o\ue000 the issue?

Adult literacy di\ue001fculties are a major issue \ue001or Irish society. In 1997, results
\ue001rom the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS), developed by the
Organisation \ue001or Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),
showed that 25% o\ue001 the Irish adult population, or at least 500,000 people,
scored at the lowest level, Level 1, o\ue001 a fve level scale.

IALS also showed that another 30% o\ue001 Irish adults were at Level 2, meaning
they could only cope with very simple material.
Who are the 25%?
u\ue000Most o\ue001 those who scored at Level 1 were in the older age groups.
There are a number o\ue001 possible reasons why so many older people
scored at Level 1 in IALS:
u\ue000they may not have completed primary school;
\ue000u\ue000\ue000may not have been able to take advantage o\ue001 \ue001ree second level
education which was only introduced in 1967; or
u\ue000\ue000they may only have developed the literacy skills required \ue001or society
at that time.
u\ue000About one-f\ue001th o\ue001 people at Level 1 never read a book and three-f\ue001ths
claimed never to have been to a public library.
u\ue000More than 60% o\ue001 those who le\ue001t school without completing the Junior
Cycle scored at Level 1.
u\ue000Nearly a f\ue001th o\ue001 those aged 16 to 25 scored at Level 1. This is a poor
result compared to the percentage o\ue001 16 to 25 year olds at Level 1 in
Sweden (3%) and Germany (5%).
u\ue000An unemployed person is three times more likely to experience a lower
level o\ue001 literacy than someone who is employed.

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