Participants wanted to take part in new RTE TV series ‘Written Off?’

1 Oct 2008

“This is once in a lifetime opportunity for anyone who wants the chance to change their lives around,” said Tom O’Mara, NALA. “All over Ireland there are people who have so much to offer but often feel held back because they don’t have good literacy skills. When I say literacy I mean reading, writing, spelling, working with numbers or even using a computer. Maybe they didn’t get the best out of their education first time around or have been in a job where they haven’t had to write much so they’ve simply got rusty.

“This is once in a lifetime opportunity for anyone who wants the chance to change their lives around,” said Tom O’Mara, NALA. “All over Ireland there are people who have so much to offer but often feel held back because they don’t have good literacy skills. When I say literacy I mean reading, writing, spelling, working with numbers or even using a computer. Maybe they didn’t get the best out of their education first time around or have been in a job where they haven’t had to write much so they’ve simply got rusty. With this new TV series we are going to offer a group of 10 people the chance to take part in an unique course run by experienced tutors that is specially designed for them,” he said.

“Often people feel too embarrassed to return to learning and go to great extremes to hide their difficulties from their friends and family. If you’ve seen last year’s series you will know that this course is very different and not like school. It’s as much geared towards building the student’s confidence as it is about working on their particular literacy skills. The participants will work with very experienced tutors who will identify each person’s particular learning style and will work with them on what they want to learn most. This will be a very positive experience that will transform their lives and the TV series will follow their journey over the course of 8 weekends,” he said.

Having difficulties with reading and writing is something that affects thousands of adults. In 1997, the Education Research Centre carried out a survey which examined how well adults could handle different types of reading and numeracy tasks which crop up regularly in work and in daily life – such as reading timetables, the labels on medicine bottles, or calculating and estimating quantities. This survey concluded that one in four – that is, about half a million - Irish adults ‘have problems with even the simplest literacy task’ such as reading instructions on a bottle of aspirin. It also found that one in six ‘of those who are in employment are at the lowest level’.

“We’re looking for people who want to learn. They might be workers who would like to go for promotion but don’t have the confidence, parents who want to help children with their homework, or those who would simply like to write a letter or send an email. Each week the participants in this new TV series will work towards their own goal that they set at the start of the course. The aim of ‘Written Off?’ is to show people at home that it is never too late to learn. If anyone wants to find out more all they have to do is ring 1800 20 20 65 and we can have an informal, confidential chat with them about what’s involved in the series.”

The last series of ‘Written off?’ was a huge success attracting weekly audiences of 210,000 viewers on RTE One. “Not only did all the participants in last year’s programme improve their literacy skills but they also gained the confidence to go on to learn new ones. Since the programme finished last year Jane from Kerry has opened her own flower shop, Norma and Keith from Cork passed their taxi driving test and are now working in the city, and Andrew is about to open a pizzeria in Kildare. This shows that it is never too late to learn and change your life around,” said Tom.

If you would like to find out more about participating in this new TV series please contact NALA on 1800 20 20 65.

For media queries please contact:
Tom O’Mara, National Adult Literacy Agency, 021 4278669 or 086 041 0440
Fergus Dolan, National Adult Literacy Agency, 01 8509118 or 087 7466550