News & Media

Reintroduce the school library grant to give every child a right to read

1 June 2021

Statement by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
Spokesperson on Education, Enterprise and Trade

Labour education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has called on Government to reintroduce the school library grant to give every child the right to read. Backing the Children’s Books Ireland campaign, Deputy Ó Ríordáin said the school library is a crucial part of building children’s literacy skills and must be properly resourced and funded.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“Books are instrumental to unlocking a lifelong commitment to discovery and are central in the ongoing development of every person’s literacy skills. While all children’s literacy may be impacted by school closures and a lack of access to books, these closures have disproportionately hit disadvantaged and vulnerable students. In planning the 2021/22 school year, funding for school libraries must be top of the agenda to address this.

“We need to enhance school libraries and ensure that they are a focal point in the classroom. Children should be afforded the opportunity to browse the shelves of their school library to discover stories and encourage a lifelong love of learning.

“As well as the creativity and learning benefits, reintroducing funding would go a long way to improve children’s literacy skills, particularly children from disadvantaged backgrounds. One in six people in Ireland struggle to read basic information, may never experience the fulfilment of reading a great novel. OECD studies show that poverty and low literacy are two sides of the same coin, and lead to the perpetuation of inequality later in life.

“We need to create a fairer starting point for children and help eradicate illiteracy through early intervention at the primary and secondary school level. Let’s give every child in Ireland a right to read rooted in their school library.”