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Poet sounds warning over funding cuts to education

WARNING: Benjamin Zephaniah

POET, NOVELIST and playwright Benjamin Zephaniah is warning that economic cuts to education services “risk worsening support for young people with dyslexia”.

Zephaniah, a dyslexic who was kicked out of school unable to read and write at age 13, made the warning in Youth magazine, FV1.

In the magazine published by East London youth charity, Futureversity, Zephaniah said support was needed to ensure schools better understand dyslexia and help those who have the learning disability.

“To me school needs to be broadened out so that teachers know how to deal with dyslexia properly – in a way that recognises the difference positively,” Zephaniah said.

“The important thing for anyone with dyslexia is you’ve got to overcome people’s misconceptions. And how you overcome these is being good at what you do.

"Young people have to get out there and write their own story because if they don’t someone else will do it for them. My mantra is dyslexia is not a measure of intelligence.”

AT RISK: Support for student learning

The interview was carried out by Futureveristy dyslexic student, Bayar Hassan, as part of the charity’s launch of its new, interactive, digital magazine FV1 to help young people aged 16 -25 get their views, and opinions published in an online magazine.

The warning comes as research from Dyslexia Action and The World Illiteracy Foundation estimates that the cost of illiteracy to the UK economy is £81 billion and suggests getting it right for those with dyslexia would, at a cautious estimate, solve the literacy problems for at least one in ten of those currently failing, FVI said.

Cass Business School in London also said there have been many success stories featuring people with dyslexia. “One in five entrepreneurs in the UK is a dyslexic, and that this group tend to start more companies and employ more people than their non-dyslexic counterparts,” it said.