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Two Mayo adult education organisations make the shortlist for AONTAS STAR Awards

17 Feb 2012 02:12 PM

Two Mayo adult education organisations make the shortlist for AONTAS STAR Awards

An education initiative which helps adults experiencing mental illness to progress onto education and training, and a VEC course which encourages rural men to take part in education and training have both been shortlisted for an AONTAS STAR Award in the Connaught category.

39 people have participated in the Freshstart programme in Belmullet Co. Mayo, a community based initiative supported by state agencies such as FÁS and the HSE. In Kiltimagh Further Education Centre, 170 men have taken part in the 'Men Making the Mould' programme developed by Co. Mayo VEC. 20% of those men progressed onto further education and 20% of them moved into employment as a direct result of their participation.

The STAR Awards recognise outstanding examples of adult education in Ireland. This year five Awards will be given - four provincial awards and one nationwide award. The STAR Awards is now in its sixth year, with the number of entries increasing from last year. This year AONTAS received 119 entries from adult education organisations all around the country.

The winners will be announced at the STAR Awards Ceremony on February 20th.

The shortlist was developed by an Independent Judging Panel, who will now hit the road to meet with the seven hopeful groups. 'These projects prove that given the right learning environment and supports, adults can overcome significant barriers and progress onto further education and employment' said AONTAS Director Berni Brady.

The next judging phase involves regional meetings with the shortlisted projects. During these meetings, organisations will be given the opportunity to talk to the judging panel and show why they should receive a STAR Award. 'We're encouraging the shortlisted groups to bring learners who have benefited from their services, or to show some of the work that they have done,' explained Ms Brady. The judges will then make a decision on a winner in that category and the names will be kept secret until the ceremony.

The judges will meet with shortlisted projects in the Connaught Category at Croi na Gaillimhe Resource Centre, Mill Street Co. Galway on Tuesday the 7th of February from 11 am.

For more information/ contact

Niamh Farren, Communications Officer, AONTAS 01 406 8220/087 911 0569

Note to Editor
1. The STAR Awards is an initiative organised by AONTAS, the National Adult Learning Organisation. The Awards showcase teamwork and award recognition to adult learning organisations. More information about the awards and the Adult Learners' Festival is available from
2. Award winners will be announced at the ceremony on Monday February 20th at the Burlington Hotel.