The Really Useful Guide to Words and Numbers is a Distance Learning project co-ordinated by the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA). The project is funded by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland and the Department of Education and Science.
In 1997, an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) International Adult Literacy Survey found that one in four Irish adults has low literacy levels. A further 30% of the adult population do not have the skills needed for a modern knowledge based economy.
Although the survey pointed out that literacy problems are most in evidence among adults over 40, Ireland still has one of the highest rates of literacy problems among those aged 16-25 years in OECD countries (with around 17% of the population at the lowest literacy level).
Research by NALA highlighted the low participation rates of adults with reading and writing difficulties in literacy services across Ireland. About 33,500 students are currently registered with a literacy service, just over 6% of the total population with literacy difficulties.
A range of barriers hindering greater participation includes stigma attached to “going public” about a literacy problem, fear of starting tuition, lack of childcare, transport, time and financial constraints.
To date, NALA has been involved in the development of distance education materials in the form of the 5 Read Write Now television series and associated workbooks and web sites. Previous years’ Read Write Now packs are available on www.nala.ie under ‘Publications’.
In 2005, the National Adult Literacy Agency, in partnership with Electric Paper Skills for Life, applied for and received a grant through the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland’s Sound and Vision Scheme to develop two series of The Really Useful Guide to Words and Numbers, workbooks and tutor support line.
In 2006, the Department of Education and Science agreed to fund the development of the Web component of the Really Useful Guide to Words and Numbers project.
The Really Useful Guide to Words and Numbers project aim to provide basic literacy skills for a broad and unidentified audience. The project is targeting people who are not involved in existing literacy services, thereby providing them with basic literacy learning. In addition it is hoped that the series would raise awareness of literacy issues amongst the general population.
Students follow the 24 programmes of the two TV series and they can order a worksheet materials pack by calling the Freephone number 1800 20 20 65. Each chapter in the workbook corresponds to a TV programme. There are 11 worksheets per chapter that students use to complement the learning in the TV series.
For more information on the Really Useful Guide to Words and Numbers, use the Contact page on this Web site or call 1800 20 20 65.
If you'd like to download the final evaluation of The Really Useful Guide to Words and Numbers, click here.