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Barrett, Richard Boyd

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Further Education and Training Bill 2013: Report Stage

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Further Education and Training Bill 2013: Report Stage

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Further Education and Training Bill 2013: Report Stage

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Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett

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Snippet Contents:

I am curious about that. I welcome the Minister of State's acknowledgement of the issue that is the subject of my amendment No. 14. Like his amendment probably is, my amendment is a result of lobbying by people active in the area of adult literacy. They were keen that a specific commitment be included in the Bill on the need for a strategy on literacy and numeracy, given it is such an important issue. One in four people in the country - a very high figure - has literacy or numeracy problems of some degree. It is welcome that the Minister of State has included this and well done to the organisations that have pushed and lobbied for this inclusion.
I hope this commitment in the legislation will also be backed up with resources and with the implementation of such a strategy. It is an important issue. In passing, I note that the cuts or changes to the pupil-teacher ratio in further education colleges will potentially have an impact on this area and on the ability of the State and the Department of Education and Skills to have a strategy that really works and develops our literacy and numeracy campaign. The organisations that are campaigning on these issues and that advocate on behalf of those who have literacy issues have said a lot more needs to be done than is being done currently. We need outreach strategies and we need to have more hours of tuition for those, given the average is currently two to three hours and these organisations suggest it should be up to six hours. They also suggest more one-to-one tuition is needed for people with literacy and numeracy problems.
All of those issues require resources. While it is a welcome step that this is included in the Bill, I hope the Government and the Minister of State can assure us it will be backed up with resources. As we discussed in other contexts, we need some sort of assurance that this area will not be adversely affected by the cuts and changes in the pupil-teacher ratio in the further education colleges, which I and people in that sector fear it may be.