‘Hundreds’ of Limerick children have literacy problems

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

HUNDREDS of children across Limerick are leaving primary school unable to fully read and write, it has been revealed.

HUNDREDS of children across Limerick are leaving primary school unable to fully read and write, it has been revealed.

At a meeting of the City VEC, chief executive Paul Patton said that in some primary schools in more deprived parts of the city 60% of students are below the required literacy level for their age.

Effectively, this means only four in ten youngsters have full literacy skills at these schools, which were not identified.

Now, secondary schools - including St Nessan’s Community College - are putting on special programmes to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of first year students.

National statistics last year showed that on average just one in every ten children has literacy problems.

Mr Patton also said that 276 children on the northside are identified as having literacy problems, a figure one councillor described as “staggering”. There is a similar number on the southside, it is understood.

The City VEC is set to bring out a report on tackling literacy problems in Limerick, in the hope of improving the situation.

Calls have also been made on the government to fund struggling schools in disadvantaged areas - and for any plan to look outside the home.

“There are pockets of large disadvantage which need to be tackled,” Mr Patton pointed out.

He said much of the problem of poor literacy levels lies with parents who “have had little education themselves, so they have no capacity to help with homework”.

Independent city east councillor John Gilligan said: “In some cases, parents have given up on life. They see no way out of the mess they are in - they are treading water and hoping they will not sink any lower. We need to take [the issue] outside the home.”

He said: “It is staggering in this day and age. This kind of thing should not happen now. There is no reason why, after eight years, a person is unable to read and write.

“Everyone has a fundamental right to an education - too many people are falling through the cracks.”

“There is no point putting somebody through secondary education when they do not have the basic primary education,” Cllr Gilligan concluded.