Overcoming low literacy: ‘One day my little girl asked why I couldn’t help her with homework and I knew I had to do something’
An Irish man who has battled with reading and writing since primary school revealed his breaking point came when his eight-year-old daughter asked him why he could not help her with homework.
Labourer Chris Duffy (38) from Drogheda said he always had to avoid helping his daughter Hannah, now ten, with her lessons because of his low confidence when it came to spelling, reading and writing.
“When my eldest child Hannah (10) used to ask me for help with her homework I could never help her,” said Chris.
“I used to say ‘Ask your mother’ and her mam would always help her out because I couldn’t.
“One day she asked me why I couldn’t help her and I knew I should do something about it. That was the reason I joined the classes first in April 2013,” he said.
Chris, who comes from a family of eight children, left school at the age of 15 to work following the death of his mother.
Chris worked with Irish Rail for more than twenty years before being made redundant in 2010. He revealed that filling out application forms for jobs was something he found difficult before deciding to tackle this issue.
“This has been a problem for me since primary school when I was in about fourth class.”
“I had trouble with reading and writing and I couldn’t fill out a job application or help my kids with their homework.
“My confidence was so low. I never sent texts because they were always spelled wrong and it was affecting all parts of my life.
“I had a lot of dreams but they fell through when I left school and I knew I couldn’t read. In school I thought I was just totally stupid.
“Even an ‘Ann and Barry’ book and I would be panicking. I’d either run out of class or just cry, and I used to get bullied an awful lot for that. I just want the three kids to be proud of me,” said Chris.
The Louth man will tonight feature on TV3 documentary ‘Get the Numbers, Write’ which follows the learning journey of five Irish people struggling with low literacy and he said it was one of the best decisions he ever made.
“Deciding to do something about this was the best thing I ever did. I now do classes every Monday in English and every Friday in Maths in Drogheda EMT.
“The main thing that has come from this is that I’m now able to help my kids with their homework.
“With application forms, I could never do them myself before I always has to ask my partner but now I’m able to do it myself.
“My confidence has soared completely and it is 100pc better than it was before,” he said.
Following the filming of the documentary, Chris urged other Irish people who might be struggling with low literacy to seek help and tackle the problem.
"Don’t be afraid to get information and ask for help," said Chris.
“If you’re embarrassed it’s possible to seek one-to-one help.
“Do something about it and come in and talk to someone about it. It was the best thing I ever did,” he said.
The first episode of ‘Get the Numbers, Write’ airs tonight (30th March) at 9pm on TV3.