Policy Day – Adult Learners’ Festival

06 March 2020
9:30 am - 1:30 pm
Who should attend:
AONTAS Members & Invited Guests
Prior booking required:
Richmond Education and Event Centre, 1 Brunswick St N, Smithfield, Dublin, D07 TH76

Are we still learning for life?

Community education 20 years since publication of Learning for Life: White Paper on Adult Education

(2000 to 2020)


We are pleased to share the full agenda and pre-event paper

As part of the National Adult Learners' Festival AONTAS holds an annual policy day in Dublin. The theme for this year's festival is #LearningForLife.

The event is being held at the Richmond Education and Event Centre in Dublin and is open to AONTAS members and invited guests. If you would like to join AONTAS as a member, please click here

Focus of the Day: To bring policy makers, community education learners, educators and academics together to listen first-hand to the impact of independently managed community education and chart its evolution since 2000. A specific focus will centre on factors which have helped or impeded the ability of community education to respond to the needs of local communities and learners. The ultimate aim is to re-visit the potential of independently managed and non-statutory community education to meet current national policy priorities (specifically within the remit of the Department of Education and Skills) so that it is empowered to widen participation in adult education.

Aim: The Policy Day will mark the 20 year anniversary of the publication of Learning for Life: White Paper on Adult Education (2000).

Outline of the day: As with all AONTAS events, we want to create a space for learning. Our intention is to set out the current community education context from a practice perspective by:

- Rooting the day in the learner experience with an initial learner discussion panel on community education

- Seeing community education in action by showing videos of examples of organisations from across Ireland (where it happens, who is involved, the impact)

With this backdrop, we will explore the impediments to the growth and development of independently managed and non-statutory community education (funding mechanism).

The White Paper on Adult Education will be discussed by one of the key actors responsible for its development, Prof Tom Collins.

Participants will engage in facilitated table discussions regarding questions important to the current position of community education in national policy. Key points will be identified by facilitator and form the basis for discussion of the afternoon Panel Discussion.

What we hope to achieve: In 2019 the Policy Day proposed a new National Strategy for Community Education as community education meets national policy objectives across a range of government departments. The goal was to create conversations across departments who fund independently managed community education.

This year we want to discuss The future of community education and how we can ensure its future through the creation of a sustainable multi-annual funding model.

Further details and a comprehensive agenda will be made available soon.

Confirmed speakers include Andrew Brownlee (Chief Executive Officer, SOLAS), Niamh O'Reilly (CEO, AONTAS), Tara Farrell (AONTAS Chairperson), Professor Tom Collins, William Beausang (Assistant Secretary General at the Department of Education and Skills), Mary Maher (Director of Dublin Adult Learning Centre), Martina Ní Cheallaigh (Senior Expert, European Commission - DG for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion), Liz O'Sullivan (Adult Education Officer, City of Dublin Education and Training Board). 


AONTAS is Ireland’s national adult learning organisation for adult and community education providers and adult learners. It promotes the value and benefits of adult learning and advocates on behalf of the sector. As part of the AONTAS Adult Learners’ Festival, we are hosting our annual policy day.

Register for this event

Contact details:
Tel: 01-4068220