Learners as Leaders is a programme delivered through AONTAS’ project Adult and Community Education: Supported Learner Pathways (2020-2021), as part of the European Agenda for Adult Learning. The programme aims to build and empower the capacity of learners within the adult education sector. Through the programme learners develop skills in critical thinking, communication, creative problem solving and advocacy. Over a number of workshops learners have an opportunity to share their perspectives and insights while also getting direct support from AONTAS.
Some participating learners shared their experiences of learning with us in the form of learner stories. Click here to read these stories which are published on the AONTAS website and on AONTAS’ Instagram – our dedicated Learner Voice social media platform.
The learners were provided with some learning materials and sustainably made t-shirts as part of their engagement with the programme.
As part of the Learners as Leaders programme, AONTAS shared daily learning resources with the participating learners. These resources, or “Breakfast Vita30mins”, provided a daily learning activity to correspond with each of the 17 SDGs. The resources contained podcasts, videos, articles and games, and were provided to create a deeper understanding of each SDG. Each activity took approximately 30 minutes to complete, making it a perfect accompaniment to the learners’ daily breakfast. The participants were then asked to start a conversation with someone to share the information they had learned from the resource.
The first workshop covered the principles of development education which revolves around tackling the root causes of poverty, inequality and climate change through transformative education. The workshop used experiential, participatory approaches to understand the key issues that development education focuses on. At the end of the session, participants discussed possible opportunities to integrate development education into adult and community education using active citizenship as a focus.
“Adult education gives people different perspectives on things they hadn’t thought about before”
– Learners as Leaders programme participant
The second workshop covered the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Participants explored what the SDGs are and what purpose they serve on a local level, and how we can understand the issues we all face from a globally informed perspective. At the end, participants discussed the key role adult education plays in sustainable development and how it promotes economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development and creates favorable conditions for empowering global active citizens.
“The learning never stops!”
- Learners as Leaders programme participant
The third workshop offered a space for both reflection and idea generation on what we can build on as individuals, as a group, and as a society to become active global citizens. In this workshop learners explored the principles covered in the previous two workshops through sharing their individual and community experiences. The goal of the Learners as Leaders programme, culminating in this session, was to understand the uses of adult education in the field of development education and empower the learners to take action. Watch the video below for an overview of how the Learners as Leaders group propose we integrate the SDGs into adult education.
During this workshop we shared the below graphics which capture the learners’ reflections during the programme.
The programme concluded with a collaborative webinar with a number of key speakers invited to present on topics related to the SDGs and development education.
Bobby McCormack, Co-founder and Director of Development Perspectives, shared information on the extremely impressive work Development Perspectives are doing in developing the area of development education within Ireland.
Tara Farrell, CEO of Longford Women’s Link, Chairperson of the AONTAS Board and Director of Roscommon’s Women’s Network delivered a presentation on behalf of the SHE: See Her Elected project of which she is Co-founder. This project conducts incredible work in empowering women and addressing the under-representation of rural women in local government.
Jarmo Pykälä from Kvs, the Finnish Lifelong Learning Foundation, presentated information on their media literacy project conducted within Palestine.
Each of the presentations related significantly to the material that had been discussed in the Learners as Leaders programme and provided new learning opportunities for each of the attending learners and AONTAS members. The subjects covered related to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as SDG 5 for Gender Equality, SDG 10 for Reduced Inequalities and SDG 16 for Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.
“If you want change, YOU have to do something”
– Tara Farrell, SHE Project Co-founder
Once the series of presentations concluded, groups in breakout rooms were asked to discuss the ways in which adult education and development education could be better integrated. Learners from the Learners as Leaders programme then offered feedback on these discussions to the larger group. AONTAS is grateful to the fantastic learners who were engaged, energetic and shared their passion for adult education throughout.
For more information
This blog is part of AONTAS’ current project ‘Adult and Community Education: Supported Learner Pathways 2020-2021’ as part of the European Agenda for Adult Learning.
If you would like to get involved with our EAAL project or to find out about the activities it encompasses, please contact Ecem Akarca, AONTAS EU Projects Officer at: firstname.lastname@example.org or Órla Mannion, AONTAS Project Officer for Capacity Building at: email@example.com.
Check out the #LearnersAsLeaders hashtag and follow @aontas on Twitter to learn more about this programme.