An Post launches “Unlocking Life” to address illiteracy among adults and children

by Rose Barrett
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Rose Barrett

An Post’s Unlocking Life literacy initiative was launched by Simon Harris TD, Minister for Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science at An Post’s EXO Building HQ last week to support those who struggle with unmet literacy needs.

Working with their partners in literacy, the campaign aims to raise awareness of unmet reading and writing needs among adults and children and to support the work of those organisations dedicated to addressing the challenge. The An Post Unlocking Life initiative was supported by Patricia Forde, Laureate na nÓg (Ireland’s Children’s Literature Laureate) and children’s author and illustrator, Alan Nolan reading their favourite stories to a group of first-class primary school students from St Patrick’s National School, Ringsend and St Laurence O’Toole National School, Seville Place, Dublin 1.

Colleen Dube, CEO, NALA, June Tinsley, Head of Communications, BITCI, Simon Harris, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and Debbie Byrne, Managing Director An Post Retail

An Post will partner with the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA), Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI), Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI), Children’s Books Ireland and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.  One in six adults struggle to read and understand information, while one in four face difficulties with basic maths.  For some, unmet literacy needs can lead to low educational attainment, reduced income, poor health and higher unemployment rates.

Speaking at launch of Unlocking Life, Minister Simon Harris said: “I welcome An Post’s well established and longstanding commitment to literacy in Ireland for over 20 years. Unlocking Life will help to bring greater awareness of literacy supports available to people free of charge around the country breaking the cycle of generations of literacy problems, making it possible for more of our citizens to access greater opportunities in life.

“An Post’s collaborative and partnership-centred approach to getting the message out about literacy is exactly the vision of the Adult Literacy for Life (ALL) Strategy, which ensures that we take a whole of Government and whole of society approach to literacy. Our aims in the ALL Strategy are ambitious. We want to reduce the number of adults in Ireland with unmet literacy needs from 18pc to 7pc. Unlocking Life will significantly contribute to achieving these ambitions and improve people’s lives. “

Sending his good wishes for the success of the programme President Michael D Higgins (Patron of BITCI) said:  “As World Literacy Day was hosted on September 8, it is heartening to see organisations like An Post taking proactive steps to address intergenerational literacy struggles, ensuring that every person in our society, regardless of their circumstances or background, has access to the resources and support needed to overcome literacy challenges.”

Maya Chitsime, 7, Amelia Lily Walsh, 8, St Laurence O’Toole National School, Seville Place, Dublin 1, Patricia Forde, Laureate na nÓg (Ireland’s Children’s Literature Laureate), Andrei Durac, 7, and Kaiya McLeady, 7, St Laurence O’Toole National School

Debbie Byrne, MD An Post Retail, remarked: “Right now, one in six adults in Ireland can feel locked out of life because they struggle with reading and understanding information. At An Post, we’re supporting reading and writing programmes for adults and children all over Ireland to help empower and unlock opportunity for everyone. In a world built on words, struggling with reading and writing keeps people locked out of participating in everyday life. People facing literacy challenges are more likely to report poor health, political disengagement, low participation in volunteer activities, and decreased trust in others. “

The An Post Unlocking Life will have both a child and an adult stream of activity. An Post supported the delivery of over 14,000 books to children on World Book Day in 2023. It also updated Pride Reading Guide this summer, featuring 200 LGBTQ+-inclusive books for readers aged 0–18, offering ways to encourage solidarity, allyship and confidence in children and young people. It further supported the delivery of 72,856 books for free to children through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. To date, in 2023 50,076 books have been delivered.


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