"Who does it cost? How greater investment in adult learners will strengthen Irish society": Adult Learners' Festival 2024 Policy Discussion

04 March 2024
Who should attend:
Adult and community education staff and practitioners, FET Staff and Practitioners, ETB Managers, co-ordinators, and tutors, Policymakers including representatives from the Department of Further and Higher Education
Prior booking required:
The Richmond Education and Event Centre, Smithfield, Dublin

This event brings together AONTAS members and policy makers to explore policy solutions to the growing levels of poverty and income inequality for adult learners.

Education is widely recognised as a tool used for improving the conditions of people’s lives, and society. Research shows that adult learning results in increased levels of personal happiness and wellbeing for individuals; a greater sense of belonging, social inclusion and inter-cultural understanding for communities; benefits to the economy; and a decrease in levels of poverty and inequality.  

Yet there is insufficient financial investment to meet the real costs of adult learning in Ireland.

Greater investment in adult learning would help address growing levels of poverty, and work towards addressing inequalities in Irish society.

There must be adequate and reliable funding to cover the real costs of returning to education as an adult, particularly for people from under-resourced communities. We must incentivise returning to education in order to work towards greater equality in Irish society.   

“Who Does It Cost?” will inform relevant policy makers about the cost and impact of insufficient investment in adult learning on Irish society, and what can be done to bring about positive change.

We will raise awareness about growing levels of poverty and inequality in Ireland among adult learners and their families, and how that impacts people’s ability to learn. Attendees will learn about the education policies that determine financial supports for adult learners, and what needs to change to bring about greater equality. We will demonstrate the transformative power of adult learning, and the ongoing impact of educators and staff in adult and community education across the island of Ireland.  

We at AONTAS will soon launch a national campaign targeting specific financial policies relating to adult education in Ireland, and advocate for changes to make access to adult education easier. At this event, you will be invited to have your say, and work with us to bring about results that will help adult learners.   

About the AONTAS Adult Learners’ Festival 2024:  

The theme for this year’s Festival is “Everyday Learning Spaces”, which highlights how people learn in lots of different places and spaces in communities across the island of Ireland, and celebrates flexible and varied learning environments that are diverse and open, and safe and respectful. Everyday learning spaces are an open call for anyone to “find yourself here.”  

“Who Does It Cost?” is the inaugural event of the Festival and focuses on the education policies and structures that make it possible – or almost impossible – to learn in Irish society. It demonstrates our clear message that, while educators and adult learners are creating and meeting in “Everyday Learning Spaces” in towns and cities across the island, without the necessary conditions to make learning possible, and without sufficient investment from Government, inequalities will persist, especially for people living in or at risk of poverty.    

Take a look back at last year’s policy discussion: Stepping Stones and Stable Roots 23  

Learn more about the Adult Learners’ Festival and how to get involved.  

Register for this event

Contact details:
Richmond, 1 Brunswick St N, Smithfield, Dublin, D07 TH76