Around 19 per cent of secondary students drop out of school just after their Junior Cert or when they reach 15. Many do so because they have difficulty with reading and writing.
As a result, Galway city’s Labour councillors are calling on the Galway City Council to kick off a nation-wide literacy campaign entitled Right to Read.
The campaign is directed towards the Irish school system and seeks to use the local authorities, homework clubs, and libraries as the key elements.
“Children who go to primary school must learn to read so that they read to learn when they move up to secondary school,” said Labour Cllr Billy Cameron. “Our motion will, if implemented, create more opportunities for young people to engage in homework clubs by identifying local authority estates where clubs could be established.”
Following from that, the councillors would seek council Community Development staff to liaise within these communities and deliver a quality homework club. The Housing Department would oversee the development of the service and source funding from other agencies if necessary. RAPID funding would be one source that could be tapped into.
The Labour motion also focuses on ‘Parental Empowerment’, where local community crèches would have a Baby Loves Books Scheme where literacy packs are given to young parents in conjunction with other State agencies.
Labour is also seeking to introduce a Family Learning Through Sport course based on the model of Sunderland FC/Dublin Docklands Development Authority model where parents and children are engaged in a course which focuses on parenting skills and literacy through sport.
“There are at least 500,000 ( half a million ) adults that are functionally illiterate,” said Cllr Tom Costello. “Many of these people are doomed to low incomes or long term unemployment. This cycle must be broken.”