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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

I wish our comrades in the Abortion Rights Campaign well for their march on Saturday. To restate Sinn Féin's position, we believe in full abortion rights in both the South and the North. We will make that point clearly as part of the march on Saturday. We need equality and choice throughout this island.
I raise the issue of adult literacy. I have met the National Adult Literacy Agency a couple of times now and it has been very impressive in its submissions. I am conscious that we are just a couple of weeks away from the budget and I want to make a plea for additional funding and request a debate on the matter. To be fair, I do not think people fully realise, as I did not, the extent of the challenge in respect of adult literacy. One in six people struggles with everyday texts like a bus timetable, instructions inside a packet of paracetamol or reading medical prescriptions. That is over 500,000 people. One in four struggles with everyday basic maths, such as working out 20% discounts on shopping items or helping their children with maths homework. That is 750,000 people. Despite that, the budget currently allocated to adult literacy is just €31 million, which equates to 0.3% of our total education budget. That sends the message that if we cannot achieve adult literacy through primary and secondary education, that is more or less it. Surely all of us can agree that the figure of 0.3% needs to be raised substantially in the coming budget.
I urge colleagues to read the pre-budget submission made by the National Adult Literacy Agency. It contains some excellent ideas on developing blended and distance learning courses, developing family literacy and financial, health and media literacy programmes, bridging programmes and so on. There is so much more that can be done. All that is lacking is the funding. Adult literacy strikes me as being another of the poor relations at budget time. For that to change, we need voices across the Chamber, in particular in the Government parties, ahead of the budget to demand the financing that is required to make a real difference to adult literacy.