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Government heralds success of illiteracy gremlins ad campaign

LONDON - The Department for Education and Skills' TV advertising campaign, which features gremlins bullying people who can not read or write, has had an impressive impact on combating literacy and numeracy problems, according to education secretary Ruth Kelly.

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The education secretary said today that just over 1m people have achieved basic English or maths qualifications as a direct result of the marketing drive.

"Before the Skills for Life strategy was launched in 2001, there was no adult skills curriculum, no national standards and little awareness of the basic skills issue," Kelly said in her speech at the Skills for Life conference.

"There was a stigma around admitting problems in literacy and numeracy and many people -- employees, jobseekers, offenders -- were often left to fend for themselves."

By last year, the department exceeded its target to help 750,000 learners achieve their first Skills for Life qualification. It has since passed a total of 1,130,000 people.

Kelly singled out the St Luke's-created gremlins campaign for praise, saying it had broken down barriers and that "research now shows [it] is one of the most well-known government campaigns ever produced".

However, this time last year, the campaign drew fire from some quarters. The ads were restricted for screening after 7.30pm after viewers complained that the creatures were frightening children.

It was not the first time that the gremlins were accused of frightening kids. In 2003, they were banned from daytime television.

About 5.2m people aged between 16 and 65 have trouble reading and writing and 15m people have difficulty with basic mathematics.

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