For hundreds of years Scotland has valued the role of education and the vital contribution literacy makes towards educating our citizens. We recognise without question that a strong, successful country requires strong and secure literacy skills for every citizen. We know that literacy is fundamentally about every citizen having the means to understand our world and to improve and shape our lives and communities for the better. Literacy skills are fundamental requirements for learning, and are essential for work and life. On a personal level, they provide a key route for enjoyment, through reading, writing and exploring our, and others', cultures. Literacy skills enable every citizen to engage effectively and fully in society, to use services, to communicate and to express and share ideas.
We also know well the consequences of low levels of literacy which are associated with poor educational attainment, limited employment prospects, poverty, health inequalities and lower social and political participation in our society. These result in costs which are borne by the whole country, with poor literacy skills being strongly associated with social and material deprivation.
The literacy skills of the majority of people in Scotland compare well across the world, but poor literacy among a minority is unacceptable. This plan is designed to improve the literacy of all who would benefit from support. The financial climate is challenging but this makes it even more imperative that we have a determined ambition to support the most vulnerable - many of whom will have few or unacceptably low literacy skills. This is ambitious but we know we can achieve this goal. This plan, the first by a Scottish Government since devolution, sets out how.
The Scottish Government is grateful to the Literacy Commission and others who have worked with us to clarify the challenges and identify the action contained in this plan. We look forward to working with them as we move ahead.
Michael Russell MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning