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Tuesday, 17 July, 2001, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
One in four NI adults 'illiterate'
Survey contains details of NI's illiteracy rate
Almost a quarter of adults in Northern Ireland have problems reading or writing, according to Higher and Further Education Minister Dr Sean Farren.

Addressing an education conference in Belfast on Tuesday, Dr Farren said his department would be targeting illiteracy among young people as a priority.

He said those from disadvantaged backgrounds, ex-prisoners, the long-term unemployed and others would be supported to improve their educational skills and job prospects.

The minister told the International Association of Methodist-related Schools, Colleges and Universities, that the initiative provided an example of how young people could exchange ideas and develop best practice.

Sean Farren:
Sean Farren:"Illiteracy is a barrier to social inclusion"

"A recently published International Literacy Survey concluded that almost 25% of the Northern Ireland Adult population have some literacy or numeracy problems," he said.

"If we are serious about promoting social inclusion and developing a fairer society, this problem must be addressed.

"It is a major barrier to social and economic inclusion."

Dr Farren praised a business education initiative which allows final year students to study at a private church-affiliated university in the United States.

"A strong economy will assist with the development of a peaceful and just society.

"It is therefore essential to retain a clear focus on how effectively our education initiatives embrace the needs of industry in Northern Ireland," he added.

See also:

05 Jul 01 | Education
Study casts doubt on adult illiteracy
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