Supporting Global Citizenship Education at the AONTAS STAR Awards

15 Feb 2024
The STAR Awards recognise the very best in adult learning in Ireland. We celebrate and acknowledge the incredible adult learning initiatives going on across the country, in support of learners, as part of the AONTAS Adult Learners’ Festival. This year, there are 24 fantastic shortlisted initiatives. We’ll announce the winners at a special ceremony in Dublin on Friday 8th March – an exciting event to finish our 2024 Adult Learners’ Festival!

The shortlist is divided into five categories of adult learning initiatives that support people with: 

  • Health and Wellbeing 
  • Learner Voice 
  • Social Inclusion 
  • Global Citizenship Education 
  • Third-level Access and Engagement 

The STAR Awards is judged by an independent panel of educators, policymakers, adult learners, and other adult learning experts.  

Let’s take a closer look at the shortlisted initiatives for the category of Global Citizenship Education. 

This category, which is sponsored by SAOLTA, is open to adult learning initiatives that empower people into active citizenship roles in their own communities. 

What is Global Citizenship Education?  

Global Citizenship Education looks at making people more aware of the world around us, and what it means to be a global citizen. We might see ourselves as citizens of our country, but not necessary of the whole world. But there are big global challenges facing us, and this work encourages people to think about how, in their local communities, we can do things that benefit everyone. This includes education on sustainability and climate change, social justice and existing inequalities between people and groups, challenging racism and the rise of far-right thinking and extremism, and misinformation. Global Citizenship Education encourages learners to challenge stereotypes; question what they read and hear; and engage in independent, critical thinking.  

Let’s take a look at the nominees in the Global Citizenship Education (GCE) category: 

“Connecting Cultures - Sustaining Our World” - Meath Partnership 

An Irish Aid-funded project from 2022 and 2023, this programme raised awareness of Global Citizenship Education (GCE) amongst Adult Education Practitioners and migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. The project supported educators to deliver development education. It also looked at active citizenship for migrants, encouraging them to volunteer in the local community to help them integrate. The programme had 79 participants and tailor-made GCE training. Some practitioners work with people who have been through traumatic experiences, so this training was included in the programme. Participants stated their intention to bring what they learned about GCE back to their home countries upon their return. The programme showed how GCE can be brought into practice in a tangible and meaningful way. 

Threads: Global Citizenship Education Through Drama - Lourdes Youth and Community Services (LYCS), Dublin 

The Threads Project brought GCE to a community organisation, using the arts. It featured a drama group, formed in 2021, that was concerned with social justice issues. Their interetss were inspired by the SDGs that had an impact on members’ lives. Given that the group were all living in the North-east inner city in Dublin, issues included poverty, crime, and social disintegration. The group created a play entitled “Threads”, which they directed, produced, and performed in The New Theatre in Temple Bar in March 2023. 120 came to see it, and it has now been recorded as a radio play. This play, which demonstrates the meaning of global citizenship, also relates to recent divides in the community over the increase of refugees in the area. Through the play, the group shows their rejection of difference and division, and emphasises commonality and mutual cooperation. 

Two Learning Cities: Communities and students working together to achieve common SDG goals – Cork College of FET, Douglas Street Campus  

This programme was inspired by the 17 SDG goals and a quote from “The Earth Summit” from the 1980s to “think globally and act locally.” The programme was in partnership with Erasmus+ partner, Noorderpoort in the Netherlands. The partner cities were Cork and Groningen. The project also worked with local Cork city communities initiatives. The programme incorporated adult learners and members of the community to work collaboratively on SDG goals. Learners worked in their home city and visited the partner city, to understand what the SDG goals mean and to exchange ideas for action. Learners shared ideas on how we travel, how to “greenify”, composting, and recycling. Learners met people from another European country with the same principles and desires to help improve and maintain their environment. Learners became more aware of their environmental impact and made lifestyle changes including how how they travelled to college and their energy use. Learners who went overseas brought back their findings and acted as a voice to encourage other students to go.  

Ronanstown Drama Group – Women's Collective Ireland 

This women's community drama project raised awareness and encouraged a conversation on Article 41.2 of the Irish constitution, which is the focus of the national referendum on Friday 8th March 2024 – the same day as the STAR Awards ceremony! This article states that the Irish Constitution recognises that “by her life within the home, woman gives to the state a support without which the common good cannot be achieved” and that “mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.” This project is a great example of activism activism through art, and how theatre can raise awareness of political issues. It provides a space for everyone to be informed. The performance took place in Aras Chronain in Clondalkin Village and was well attended by the Clondalkin community. It encouraged a conversation about Article 41.2, which is ongoing. This project gave participants a space where they could express themselves creatively, build confidence, and develop new skills. Through this project, the women developed a sense of empowerment as they expressed themselves creatively and explored this important issue on how to approach the referendum. By sharing their stories and experiences through drama, the women involved have increased awareness of the impact of the constitution, politics, and voting on people’s lives and on communities. 


Because the STAR Awards ceremony is focussed on the nominees, particularly the learners, it is an invite-only event. But we'll be sharing the ceremony as it happens on our social media, and spotlighting the winners.  

About the Festival 

The Adult Learners’ Festival, happening this year from 4th to 8th March 2024, is a nationwide celebration of adult learning. This year’s theme is “Everyday Learning Spaces – Find Yourself Here,” celebrating safe and supportive learning environments, wherever they may be.  

Visit this page for more details about the Festival 

Find us on or on X/TwitterFacebookInstagram and LinkedIN for the latest updates #ALF24 #FindYourselfHere 

For more information, contact