Thursday, November 02, 2006

Right to Read campaign launched

A campaign to help improve childhood literacy across Dublin was launched by the City’s Deputy Lord Mayor tomorrow.

The Right to Read Campaign is being led by the Deputy Lord Mayor, Cllr Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, and is supported by Barnardos, SIPTU, INTO, TUI, ASTI and NALA.

The campaign has identified three areas for funding and policy improvements that can be undertaken at local authority level to deliver better conditions in which children can read and learn. These include homework clubs, library services and housing.

As part of the campaign, a website has been created ( which allows members of the public to sign-up in support of the campaign. In addition, a story book entitled Room to Read – which demonstrates some of some of the conditions that result in education disadvantage - was unveiled at the launch. The book, which was written by boradcaster Eanna Ni Lamhna, will be distributed at public transport stations in Dublin over the coming week.

According to Cllr Aodhán Ó Ríordáin,“as a primary school teacher in the North Inner City, I am only too well aware of the factors that contribute to poor literacy levels and educational disadvantage among children. It is unacceptable that despite the resources now at our disposal, 11% of our children are reaching junior cert age with only very basic reading levels.

“I have decided to champion the issue of literacy during my term as Deputy Lord Mayor. To date, I have obtained support from a variety of organisations to mount this campaign, and I am also securing support from my colleagues on Dublin City Council.

“The actions that have been identified by the campaign are not rocket science: We want home work clubs to be run by professionally trained tutors, so that children get the appropriate support. We want libraries to be more child-friendly, with more appropriate opening hours, so that children can learn to enjoy reading. We want local authority and social housing to include sufficient space for children to undertake homework in their bedroom or another quite area in their home.

“It is my expectation that, once the demands of the Right to Read Campaign have been accepted by Dublin City Council, we can roll the campaign out nationally. Every local authority has its disadvantaged areas where children do not have the conditions and support to improve their literacy levels.

“The relatively inexpensive and practical recommendations of the Right to Read Campaign can have a very significant impact on tackling educational disadvantage. Early intervention in childhood literacy will have a very positive impact on a child’s education and employment prospects later in life. A good level of literacy can also have a positive impact on a child’s self-esteem and confidence,” added Cllr Ó Ríordáin.

Adding her voice in support of the Right to Read Campaign, Eanna Ni Lamhna, said, “as well as being critical in informing future educational and career opportunities for children, reading is great fun and offers lots of entertainment possibilities at home, in homework clubs and in the classroom.

“Children need to be helped and supported in reading, so that they can enjoy the benefits and reap the rewards. No child, in this day and age, should be prohibited from enjoying reading because of barriers such as poor access to good books or a lack of suitable space in their home where they can enjoy reading as a past-time.

“The Right to Read Campaign sheds light on the fact that so many children in this country suffer educational disadvantage. This stifles their capacity to fully participate in the classroom and reduces their chances of accessing third level education later in life.

“The little story that I wrote for the campaign material for the Right to Read Campaign demonstrates that when youngsters are given the right environment in which they can enjoy reading they will embrace it.

“I hope that the Right to Read Campaign will extend beyond Dublin City and that it becomes a focus for local authorities and the powers that be throughout the country,” added Eanna Ni Lamhna.