Taoiseach Hails Impact of NNI ‘Press Pass’ Initiative for Transition Year Classes

  • NNI initiative aims to encourage reading and improve literacy levels among post-primary students
  • Inaugural NNI Press Pass delivered free newspapers to 14,500 Transition Year students in 255 schools
  • NNI  announces development of trial journalism/media studies module for new Junior Cycle curriculum

National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI) today honoured the first group of Transition Year students to have taken part in its successful NNI Press Pass initiative. Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD was on hand to present the winning pupils with their awards and commended the Newspapers in Education (NiE) programme.

The first NNI Press Pass was launched last autumn, with 255 schools taking delivery of national newspapers free of charge over a two-week period. The aim was to improve Transition Year students’ literacy skills and critical thinking by encouraging them to read and discuss all aspects of the newspapers in the classroom.

Presenting the inaugural awards, the Taoiseach said: “Press Pass is a very commendable initiative from NNI, which can help to promote literacy as well as helping students to develop analytical skills and stimulating social awareness.  Students will learn how to access, analyse, and evaluate newspaper content and even how to create that content themselves. I’d like to congratulate each of today’s winners and recognise the efforts of NNI in bringing this project to so many schools around Ireland”.

Award Winners

In addition to newspapers, schools were also given free interactive NNI Press Pass workbooks with a range of exercises and an opportunity to enter a national writing competition. Today’s awards ceremony recognised the best of those entries.

The overall winner of 2012 NNI Press Pass was Fiachra O’Braonain, a Transition Year pupil in Coláiste Cois Life in Lucan, Co. Dublin.

The other category winners were:

News – Helen McLoughlin (St Mary’s Secondary School, Ballina, Co. Mayo)

Comment & Opinion – Greta Ryan (Our Lady of Lourdes Secondary School, New Ross, Co. Wexford)

Features – Sinead Kenny (St Mary’s Secondary School, Ballina, Co. Mayo)

Sport – Ann Marie Torsney (Loreto College, Swords, Co. Dublin)

Photojournalism – Niamh Hogan (Coláiste Choilm, Ballincollig, Co. Cork)

Students Who Read Newspapers “Do Better”

Speaking at today’s event, NNI Chairman Matt Dempsey said that Press Pass allows students to take advantage of the many educational resources that newspapers have to offer.

“Studies from around the world have shown that students who read newspapers do better at school,” Mr Dempsey said. “In that sense, NNI Press Pass offers a number of benefits to Transition Year pupils.

“They become familiar with the language types they will encounter in the Leaving Cert English paper; they discover a variety of different writing disciplines and language styles; they get to debate current issues and affairs; and they become more critical of what they read and how they write,” he went on.

“Most of all, though, newspapers get young people reading and NNI Press Pass will help us to foster a strong relationship with the next generation of readers while helping them become more informed as citizens of a modern democracy.”

NNI Press Pass has received widespread praise since it was launched, with the latest accolade coming from the World Association of Newspapers (WAN-IFRA), which delivered a citation that the NNI Chairman read at today’s event.

WAN-IFRA described the initiative as “a superb example for the 21st century world of how printed newspapers can play a key role in enhancing the education of today’s digitally accomplished youth.” The organisation also praised the “highly able backing and support of an enthusiastic teaching corps”.

Development Of New Journalism/Media Studies Module Announced

The project is now set to expand, with the announcement that NNI is collaborating with Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom, Co. Limerick on the development of a new journalism / media studies module for post-primary students. It will be trialled as a short course from this September and, if successful, made available as part of the new Junior Cycle curriculum beginning in September 2014.

Meanwhile, the winners of this year’s NNI Press Pass will see their work published in a specially created booklet that will be made available to all secondary schools with a Transition Year programme.

For more information about this release please contact Enda Buckley, Email: ebuckley@cullencommunications.ie Tel: 086 8112757

For more information about NNI Press Pass see www.newsbrandsireland.ie/presspass