Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Poor Numeracy and Literacy levels cost society dearly

29 May, 2007

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, Lagan Valley MLA Paul Butler has said that the transfer test is making it harder to tackle problems of literacy and numeracy in our schools. Speaking in the Assembly today Mr Butler said:

"I believe it is up to all of us to ensure that the Minister of Education is given resources by the Executive to deal with the unacceptable levels of poor literacy and numeracy amongst our school children.

"The gap between the lowest and highest performing pupils in our education system is worrying. Many of our children leave school after 12 years of education with inadequate literacy and numeracy skills and often find it difficult to find work or succeed in training.

"It must be acknowledged that the transfer test and academic selection has had an adverse impact on the educational experience of our children in primary education.

"Considerable time is spent preparing for the transfer test and this has narrowed the teaching of the curriculum. There is a warping of curriculum during these important school years to meet demands of the Transfer Test.

"Teachers and schools are under pressure to teach the test and those with lowest attainment levels within their classes are often left without the required level of support needed because of the pressure on teachers to deliver results for the higher achievers within the class.

"A high percentage of adults also have poor literacy and numeracy skills. Research indicates that up to 24% of those between 16 and 65 - around a quarter of a million people had poor literacy and numeracy skills. It is likely that parents with limited literacy and numeracy skills will be less able to give their children a good start or to help them if they have problems. Poor literacy and numeracy skills also have an impact on the health of the individual and their family members. Research shows a significant relationship between poor literacy and numeracy and the risk of offending. People with poor literacy and numeracy skills are over-represented in prisons and young offender's institutions.

"Improving literacy and numeracy skills doesn't only deliver benefits for an individual. There is evidence that it also improves the life chances of their children. The development of the child's abilities and opportunities for social and economic inclusion are improved if their parents have adequate literacy and numeracy." ENDS

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