NALAB -  the Network for Adult Learning Across Borders brings the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales together in our shared vision for educational equality.

NALAB is an umbrella partnership of leading organisations within the field of adult and community education. Individually each organisation conducts advocacy work and research to promote and protect the rights of adults and their communities to equal participation in quality education and learning. NALAB’s regional network advocates for educational equality for adults across the five jurisdictions building expertise, sharing best practice and addressing challenges in both policy and practice.

Launch of NALAB

AONTAS Lifelong Learning Summit

Dublin, 18th November 2019

Special Guest Speaker Seán Ó Foghlú, Secretary General, Department of Education and Skills in the Republic of Ireland launched NALAB as part of the AONTAS Lifelong Learning Summit. This included a panel discussion, and a parallel session; Bridges, Borders and Boundaries: Learning with our Neighbours. Representatives included:


― Stephen Evans, CEO Learning and Work Institute, UK

― Jim McHarg, Senior Manager, Scotland’s Learning Partnership

― Trevor Neilands, Northern Ireland Impact Forum for Adult Learning

― Niamh O’Reilly, CEO, AONTAS the National Adult Learning Organisation

Read AONTAS’ blog post about the launch here.

Why was NALAB created?

Adult and community education has a proven track record of increasing social inclusion; fighting sectarianism, xenophobia and racism; supporting economic prosperity; and empowering individuals to be part of active and engaged communities. Simply put, adult and community education organisations have demonstrated their cost-effectiveness and capacity to make deep and lasting positive contributions to achieving a variety of public policy goals that apply within and across our borders.

The ongoing demographic, economic and societal changes will only increase the vital role played by adult and community education within Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England. Adult and community education can help to ensure people are best placed to make the most of the opportunities that these changes will bring – learning is central to helping people do this and building integrated, cohesive and active communities. There is value in sharing our experiences of tackling these issues together.

Who is involved?

What progress has been made?

The Borders, Boundaries & Bridges: Learning with our Neighbours Conference

Belfast, 14th October 2018

Representative members came together in Belfast as part of the European Agenda for Adult Learning programme. Meeting for the first time as a collective body they shared their expertise and looked ahead at future cooperation.

 To read Niamh O’Reilly, AONTAS CEO’s blog post about the event, click here.


Policy Implementation and Guidance

The Project Advisory Group and the Northern Ireland Impact Forum are advisory bodies with national stakeholder representatives for adult learning across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Each supporting the implementation of the European Agenda for Adult Learning.

Members of AONTAS, the Learning and Work Institute and FALNI support cross-border collaboration by attending meetings and presenting for both advisory bodies.

This happens continuously throughout the year on an on-going basis.

 A cross-border and co-hosted event with support from EPALE; ‘Cultural Heritage: The Challenges of Diversity’ took place in October 2018 with representatives from both advisory groups.

What will NALAB do going forward?

Together NALAB will work across borders in the coming years so that we can ensure the successful implementation of adult and Community Education in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England.