In the second in a series of blog entries about the challenges facing community education, Stephen Flitton from Warrenmount Community Education Centre wonders if we are entering an era where the learner becomes a consumer?
Longford Womens' Link - a member of AONTAS and the CEN
The Community Education Network (CEN) is in the process of putting together a position paper on the challenges facing community education during a time of change. Community education organisations operate outside of the formal education sector and are funded through a variety of sources.
Since the establishment of the CEN in 2007 the context for community education has changed dramatically, from the absorption of Community Development Projects (CDPs) into Local Area Partnerships, reduced funding, increased demands on services, and changes to the FETAC process. Now the sector must retain its identity within SOLAS and the new integrated Further Education and Training Service.
We're often asked how many people are involved in adult education. This is a figure which is really difficult to quantify for a number of reasons. Firstly, because of the range of initiatives which now exist, particularly with the onset of the recession. Secondly, because many adults take up learning quite informally, and there is a lack of accurate data on their participation. Finally, there's often a bit of disagreement on what constitutes 'adult education'. For example, if we included the figures on the number of people taking part in Community Employment, or the number of people on Jobsbridge, this figure would be much higher.
At first glance there is little or no change in the live register figures for July. According to the CSO today (August 1st) the Live Register recorded a monthly decrease of 2300 in July - indicating a standardised unemployment rate of 14.8%, unchanged from the previous month.
1. Do your research Before you begin your application process you should research what funding options are currently available and whether you are eligible or not. Remember some colleges may offer additional financial supports to students so it's worth finding out what other funding streams may be available to you. Visit www.studentfinance.ie for more information. Also check college websites for up to date Information on additional grants and scholarships. Alternatively you can download the AONTAS Information booklet here.
The introduction of the new Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Bill is yet another piece in the jigsaw as the further education and training sector undergoes its most radical reform yet. At the end of last May the Bill returned to the Dáil for a second stage. So what are the implications of the Bill, and why introduce it in the first stage?
This blog has been pretty quiet over the last few months, but that's not reflective of the level of activity within AONTAS, we can assure you. Over the last few months we've been busy watching developments as the new training and further education authority SOLAS begins to take shape. We made an extensive submission to the consultation process earlier this year and also held an event at the end of February where thirty adult learners met members of the Implementation Group to discuss their experiences of accessing further education and training. Based on what our members have told us, here are five priorities for further education in Ireland.
Following weeks of speculation, yesterday the coalition government revealed a range of public spending cuts, which will affect a wide range of groups in society. As everyone tries to come to terms with the impact of the cuts, here are some thoughts on how the budget will affect adult learners or people thinking of returning to education.
Last week AONTAS held the first ever conference on community education in Ireland. Over 200 attended the conference, called 'Making a living, making a life'. The purpose of the conference was to focus on the dual role of community education, supporting people to get employment but also in social inclusion. A practical outcome of the conference was to get those attending to propose how community education might fit within the new SOLAS training and education authority. What really came across was the richness and diversity of community education. Those attending included tutors, learners, community education facilitators, community education providers based in the community and voluntary sector and people with a role in policy formulation.
Professor John Field on the challenge of measuring the value of community education.
Community based adult learning is paradoxical. Everyone commends it in principle, but in practice it always has to justify its place. This has been the case for all of my working life time, so the idea that we need to argue our corner is not new. What is new is that funding agencies now demand evidence of impact, a demand that can only grow as pressure on resources intensifies. And what is also new is that we can now marshall a very clear and powerful case for the positive impact of community based learning.