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5 May 2020

Supporting learners now and as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves

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On Wednesday, 29th April AONTAS Members and staff met for the fifth Update and Engagement Weekly Webinar.

The fifth Membership Update and Engagement Weekly Webinar was held on Wednesday, 29th of April. AONTAS saw even more of its members coming together and participating in the weekly online gathering to find out the latest news about the work carried out by the Mitigating Educational Disadvantage Group (MED Group), a working group made-up of key stakeholders from across the wider adult education sector.

The MED Group, established by the Department of Education and Skills in March in response to the current health emergency, is chaired by CEO Niamh O’Reilly with stakeholders from across the education sector. 

After welcoming participants Niamh gave an update on the work being done to ensure that learners who were educationally disadvantaged before the pandemic struck are not now entirely educationally deprived. Importantly, Niamh also described how this difficult moment presented a range of challenges and opportunities for the sector. As concepts and models for what is being termed the Tertiary Education System are taking shape at government level she noted the need for AONTAS members to mobilise and promote the incredible outcomes being achieved by adult and community education providers before and during the pandemic.

“I find it important to be able to meet like this for support and sharing of ideas. It’s even more important at this time of social isolation and working alone.”

– AONTAS Member

 AONTAS is looking to its membership to rally and will lead out on promoting the sector as an invaluable asset to the country and local communities for achieving a successful personal, social, cultural and economic recovery post-coronavirus.         

The second part of the webinar saw a discussion between Niamh and Caoimhe Kerins, CDETB Adult Education Officer. Together they raised a number of questions and topics for members to engage with in smaller virtual breakout rooms. Four groups of approximately 6-8 AONTAS members considered the issues raised. All points were recorded and the list below gives an insight into the highlights:   

One prominent feature to take away from the webinar last week was that despite the best efforts of organisations, participation and engagement levels seem to be significantly lower than pre-crisis levels as disadvantage learners are less able to overcome new and exacerbated barriers to accessing their education opportunities. Issues and questions remain around how learners can be best supported now and as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves with restrictions altering future arrangements? Clearly there is still a lot to learn from one another and to discuss together in the coming weeks and months. A key feature of the weekly webinars are constructive dialogue and critical reflection, ensuring the sector remains robust and resilient during these difficult times and for the road ahead.

To play its much-needed role in supporting adult and community education in the sector’s current struggle and for its future recovery AONTAS needs its members to come together in solidarity. To be part of the collective effort to identify and respond to this unprecedented situation Click Here and register for the next AONTAS Membership Update and Engagement Weekly Webinar. These webinars are open to members only and it is essential to register in order to participate. Further information on AONTAS membership is available here

Go to AONTAS Blogs for more context and blogs about the current situation as it has been unfolding.  

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To be part of the sector’s effort to identify and respond to this unprecedented situation Click Here and register for the next AONTAS Membership Update and Engagement - Weekly Webinar. These webinars are open to members only and it is essential to register in order to participate.

Further information on AONTAS membership is available here

AONTAS is holding bi-weekly virtual National FET Learner Forums. If you or a learner you know is interested, register here