Sharing Best Practice with Malta

31 May 2017
AONTAS recently hosted a Maltese Study Visit in order to share best practice with other EU member states. As part of the study visit, Christianne Fenech, Project Manager in the Ministry of Education & Employment visited Ireland for three days to focus on her specific areas of interest including: workplace learners, family literacy and engaging with employers. AONTAS travelled with Christianne to Limerick to visit some of the fantastic community education groups based in Limerick who are also a part of the Limerick Community Education Network (LCEN), longstanding AONTAS members. Read about it here.

Moyross Adult Education Group

Moyross Adult Education Group held an award ceremony to celebrate the participation of their adult learners. Local author, Helena Close gave a moving opening address about her personal story with education. At 19 year old, Helena dropped out of college and since then, always felt left out. She then decided to return to education in 2014 undertaking a Masters in Creative Writing. During her Masters, her 16 year old was diagnosed with hodgkin's lymphoma and this was a very difficult time for her family. After a lot of personal debate, she decided to carry on with her education:

“The return to education and studying got me through, to focus on something else other than illness was a gift, better than any anti-depressants…using your brain and challenging yourself is hard but you feel so, so good.”

Helena is a published author, with over seven novels and is now working on a television series and two plays. She believes education is “great fun”:

“You have fabulous facilities, use them and challenge yourself, do the thing that scares you the most. Never let age be a factor, education is ongoing, it's Lifelong and most importantly, it’s fun - particularly in a setting like here!”

Helena closed her address by quoting words of Limerick poet and academic, Desmond O’Grady: “Live full lives and leave some records”. With this in mind Helena called for learners to “do the hard things, challenge yourselves! You can do it”. Helena presented over twenty learners with certificates of participation for accredited and non-accredited courses. There was also course demonstrations such as thai-chi and displays of fantastic work created by learners throughout the year. Some young mothers receiving awards also brought their children to the ceremony and it was so important for their young children to see their mothers’ success at first hand.

Our Lady Queen of Peace

We then travelled to Our lady Queen of Peace primary school in the heart of Limerick. We met with the Home School Community Liaison, Kate Russell to find out more about her family learning initiatives in the school. Kate plays a key role in the development of both the lives of the children and parents at ‘Our Lady Queen of Peace’. In addition to organising courses for parents such as the Incredible Years Parenting Programme, she also implemented numerous classroom initiatives such as the successful ‘Kids Talk’ language programme in Junior Infants. Some other family learning initiatives include the ‘Dads and Lads’ and ‘Mams and Gals’ groups – where parents or guardians can work with children to help strengthen communication, share skills through intergenerational learning and bond. The ‘Dads and Lads’ group designed, built and decorated bird feeders which proudly adorned the walls of the play areas in Our Lady Queen of Peace.

AONTAS was delighted to travel to Limerick to support the work of our members and highlight their work as best practice to our European counterparts. A big thank you to Moyross Adult Education Group and the Limerick Community Education Network (LCEN).