We’re gathering evidence of the value and impact of adult and community education in Northern Ireland. A common thread bringing together adult and community education groups across Northern Ireland and the Republic is the desire to create more opportunities and choices for everyone, regardless of their experience or economic background.
Earlier this autumn, I travelled to Caserta in southern Italy for a meeting of the Erasmus+ BEEP Project. The BEEP (Basic Education and Empowerment for Political Participation) project looks at political participation for people who are excluded from democratic processes. This could be because of their legal status, their qualifications and skills, or due to a feeling of alienation in politics.
By Kalianne Farren, AONTAS Research OfficerHow can we have a better, fairer adult education system? At AONTAS, we’re helping adults who have gone back to education speak up about their experiences. Adult learners are the best experts in what works and what should be improved in adult education. Listening to them and working with them can make learning better for everyone.
When people share their stories about returning to learning, people empathise, they listen, and sometimes they get inspired. How can we empower people to share their experiences?
AONTAS research has found a lack of information on mental health supports for Further Education and Training (FET) learners and a disparity in the provision of psychological counselling across programmes. Here, AONTAS Research Officer Dr Laura Lovejoy considers the implications of our most recent findings for learner mental health.
Last month, Ecem Akarca and Conor Thompson from the AONTAS Advocacy Team travelled to Greece with Marissa Hebron from Longford Women’s Link. This study visit was part of the RegALE Erasmus+ Project. Ecem, Marissa and Conor learned about Greek approaches to adult and community education.
Kalianne Farren, AONTAS Research Officer for Learner Voice, travels to Brussels to attend the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) Younger Staff Training.
Aisling Meyler, AONTAS Research Officer, shares what she has learned from doing research over the years, why she is passionate about social justice, equality and fairness, and why research has a positive impact for people and for social change.
Earlier this summer, AONTAS’s Capacity Building Officer Conor Thompson travelled to Trento in Italy to take part in a European project that looks at the “digital divide” and seeks to improve the experiences of later-life learners in relation to employment and job skills.
"Learners As Leaders" is a learner-centred flexible programme that brings adult learners together from across Ireland, empowering them to share their stories, build their skills, and become advocates for adult and community education, and for their communities. This July and August, AONTAS EU Projects Officer Ecem Akarca, Project Officer for Capacity Building Conor Thompson, and Communications Officer Kate Smyth are running the programme with the theme of "Creativity Takes Courage", which includes a painting class!
“This was such a good experience as it brought together adult learning colleagues from across Europe for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic.” Earlier this summer, Dearbháil Lawless, then Head of Advocacy and recently appointed AONTAS CEO, visited Mechelen in Belgium for the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) General Assembly.
“Banking and finance systems are all based on the history and culture of a country and they are different all across Europe. It’s important for us to remember this as we work with our European partners in adult learning.” Finance and Administration Lead at AONTAS Marta Feragalli travelled for study visit to Norway to learn more about different approaches to finance in the charity sector across Europe.
“Even though we are from different countries, we share the same values, missions and have very similar challenges. These KA1 mobility study visits help us all to expand our knowledge in our adult learning fields, to find new solutions to common problems, get inspired from each other’s work, make new connections and get a chance to taste amazing food!” AONTAS EU Projects Officer Ecem Akarca goes on a study visit to Portugal to learn more about adult learning and get some ideas to take home!
"Over the three days of this job-shadowing experience, conversations we share suggest that Finnish people have a real sense of collective social responsibility and shared values" - Dr Kate Smyth, AONTAS Communications Officer visits KVS Finland in Helsinki to learn more about adult learning from our Finnish colleagues.
Members of the AONTAS team accompanied our colleagues in adult learning from across Europe on a visit to community education centres during their recent trip to Dublin. AONTAS Project Officer Giuliana Peña describes a visit to Soilse, the HSE Education and Rehabilitation Service for Recovering Drug Users. This service helps people through education and forming relationships that support positive wellbeing.
Members of the AONTAS team visited community education centres in Dublin with EU adult learning partners, including meeting tutors and learners at DALC. Our Project Officer Giuliana Peña writes about how this adult education centre provides a chance for connection and independence for people.
How can we help adults to have better levels of literacy, numeracy and digital skills? How can we help people gain a broader set of skills through an upper secondary qualification or equivalent, like the Leaving Certificate or level 3 or 4 in the European Qualifications Framework? Conor Thompson, our Project Officer for Capacity Building, writes about an EU project working on ways to improve core skills across Europe.
The AONTAS Community Education Network (CEN) “On the Road” Tour is a brand new feature of Community Education work at AONTAS. Amy Gibney, our Community Education Officer, is visiting CEN members across the country to develop our relationships and to continue to learn why Community Education is so important in our communities and how we can best support our members to continue this great work.
"Through international cooperation, this project empowers older adults to overcome obstacles that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, through increasing digital literacy, strengthening psychosocial support for individuals and communities, and highlighting how storytelling can help promote positive wellbeing, creativity, and cultural exchange" - Giuliana Peña, AONTAS Project Officer
"As Norway is a country with a social democratic history, I was keen to learn about methods used by the Norwegian councils and municipalities engage in and promote adult education" - Aisling Meyler, Research Officer at AONTAS
“The power of adult learning, especially community education, cannot be underestimated in its potential to transform people’s lives” – Minister Simon Harris TD speaking at the AONTAS Policy Event as part of the annual national Adult Learners’ Festival.
Ecem Akarca, EU Projects Officer, explores the issues of educational equity, flexibility in adult learning and overcoming the challenges of COVID-19.
Ecem Akarca, EU Projects Officer, examines social exclusion and shares the experiences of adult learners who have faced social exclusion, as well as outlining how adult learning can tackle this issue.
Ecem Akara, AONTAS EU Projects Officer, shares her experience participating in a European Agenda Peer Learning Activity (PLA) as part of the European Agenda for Adult Learning.
Ecem Akarca, EU Projects Officer, shares her experience participating in the recent AONTAS study visit with Kvs Finland.
On 14th February 2022, a new investment of €430 million in capital programmes for further and higher education sectors was announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Minister of State for Skills Niall Collins TD.
On 8th December 2021, over 100 participants gathered online to celebrate the launch of the 35th issue of The Adult Learner Journal, the only peer-reviewed journal focused on adult, community and further education in Ireland.