Wednesday, 28 June, 2017

Nominations Sought for Prestigious Adult Learning Awards

17 Nov 2016 10:04 AM

Adult Learners' Festival 6th - 10th March 2017


AONTAS, the National Adult Learning Organisation today (17.11.2016) sought nominations from adult learning initiatives throughout Ireland for the 11th Annual STAR Awards 2017. The awards recognise the use of innovative approaches in adult and community education.

Speaking about the awards, Niamh O’Reilly, Chief Executive Officer of AONTAS, said: “Adult and community education is about more than receiving a qualification. From improved confidence to better health, the wider benefits are far-reaching and can have a hugely positive impact on a person’s life, family and wider community. That’s why we have overhauled our award categories this year to focus on promoting wellbeing; social inclusion; digital inclusion; and ensuring that the learner’s voice is heard.

“As a nation, we must look at widening participation in adult learning, particularly for people who have been disadvantaged. Ireland’s participation rate stands at only 7.2 percent. Our closest neighbours, the UK has a participation rate of 15.7 percent while Denmark leads the table at 31.3 percent. The recent European Commission Education and Training Monitor (2015) highlighted the gap between lifelong learning participation rates - people who have a high level of education are four times more likely to participate than those without a Leaving Certificate standard of education. Often, it’s community education - including non-accredited programmes - that can provide that essential first step back into education for adult learners and gives them the confidence to achieve their potential and progress to further studies and employment.”

Since its inception in 2007 over 1,000 adult learning initiatives across a wide variety of areas – including arts, mental health, addiction and disability – have been recognised through the STAR Awards. For 2017, nominations are invited under four new categories:

  • Adult Learning Initiatives that Promote Wellbeing
  • Adult Learning Initiatives that Promote Digital Inclusion
  • Adult Learning Initiatives that Promote Social Inclusion
  • Adult Learning Initiatives that Promote the Learner Voice

To nominate an adult learning initiative, please visit: The deadline for receipt of nominations is Wednesday 14th December 2016.

Winners will be announced at the STAR Awards ceremony, which will be the opening event of the Adult Learners’ Festival 2017. The ceremony will take place in Dublin on Monday, 6th March 2017. The Adult Learners' Festival will take place from the 6th – 10th March 2017. The theme for the week is 'The Power and Joy of Learning'.


For more information contact:

Katie O’Rourke, Communications Officer: 01-4068220/ 087-9086168,