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State neglecting one in four with literacy problems - Crowe

22 January, 2007


Speaking today at the launch of the National Association for Adult Education's (AONTAS) week long adult learners' festival, Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Seán Crowe TD commended AONTAS on it's work in the adult education sector. He urged the Government 'to increase adult and community education resources and to improve Ireland's poor performance when it comes to lifelong learning'. The STAR Awards for adult learning projects were also presented at the launch.

The Dublin South West TD said: "I would like to begin by commending the work of the dozens of adult learning projects that were nominated for the STAR Awards and congratulating the winners and organisers of the festival. The festival's theme, of equal education opportunities for all would very much mirror the politics and education policies of Sinn Féin.

"Over one in four Irish citizens have lower secondary education or less, facing the problems of low literacy and numeracy skills. It has been estimated by the ESRI that any downturn in our economy would have disastrous results for the estimated 400,000 plus adults in our workforce in low wage marginal jobs who are unskilled.

"An adequately resourced adult and community education sector can help address these issues. Broadening access is central to the inclusive and egalitarian education system that Sinn Féin is working to bring about. That is why part-time fees for example should be abolished as they largely exclude those on low-incomes and/or with families to support.

"AONTAS's campaign to highlight the high level of literacy problems in this state, last estimated at 25 per cent of the population, is worthy of cross-party support. For far too long those with literacy problems have been ignored or marginalised and it is time for the state to take seriously the very achievable objective of eliminating illiteracy in our lifetimes."

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