He said he wanted to reduce the number of people who have difficulty with reading and writing and drive up literacy levels to provide people with more opportunities and create a more successful Scotland.
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Mr Russell was speaking yesterday as he published the Government’s Literacy Action Plan which will target vulnerable families though the Play Talk Read campaign, support literacy from a child’s early years through the Curriculum for Excellence, offer new national qualifications for the development of reading and writing and provide more backing for workplace learning.
He said Scotland had a good level of literacy skills among adults but around 25% would benefit from improving their skills and 3.6% had very limited capabilities.
Mr Russell said: “Poor literacy levels, even among a minority, are unacceptable and this plan is designed to improve the literacy of all who need support.
“Research over many years has shown that poverty and poor literacy skills are inextricably linked and have been for generations. I want to sever that link and I am confident that this Action Plan will go a long way towards doing so.”
Labour’s education spokesman Des McNulty called the plan a “missed opportunity” and said it was “light on resources and real commitment”.
He added: “There is also scant mention of continuous professional development needed to make the changes we all aspire to happen, and no commitment to protecting existing learning support provision.”