8 Dec 2016

New Book Celebrates the Diverse Paths Taken by Adult Learners

A new book celebrating the diverse paths taken by adult learners in Ireland has been released today (9.12.2016) by AONTAS, the National Adult Learning Organisation.

The book, entitled ‘I’m an Adult Learner 2016’, features the personal stories and portraits of 25 adult learners. From Sharon who did a personal development course through a community education centre and progressed to third level, to John who returned to learning following redundancy and recently achieved a National Diploma despite suffering a heart attack during his studies; the learners’ stories will inspire others to begin their own journey back to education.

Also featured is Una who achieved her ‘deferred dream’ of returning to education despite leaving school early to support her family and Julie-Anne who, after losing her own son, started helping her friend care for her disabled child and decided to pursue a course in healthcare.

Speaking at the launch, Niamh O’Reilly, CEO of AONTAS said: “For somebody who may have been out of formal education for a long time, or who had negative educational experiences in the past, it can be a hugely daunting step to return to education. The stories in this book are essential to promote the benefits of adult learning and to highlight the way in which adult learning can transform the lives of ordinary people. Nothing is more powerful than a real learner sharing their story.

“When returning to learning there can often be an initial feeling of being ‘found out’ and uncertainty that they should be there but then they realise that everyone in the class often feels the same way. Many learners refer to the fantastic tutor support that they experience when returning to education and how it is essential in supporting them to complete the course. Through these positive experiences adults are forging new career paths and learning new skills. However the benefits are not confined to jobs and skills, they are far wider and can include increased confidence, being able to help their children with their homework and improved mental health.”

Official Launch by Minister Richard Bruton

Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD officially launched ‘I’m an Adult Learner 2016’ in Dublin today and met with adult learners who contributed their stories to the book. The launch took place as part of European Vocational Skills Week, a European wide awareness week aimed at showcasing the benefits of vocational education and training.

Commending the learners, Minister Bruton said: “This is a magnificent achievement for the learners involved and I hope that their stories will inspire others. It’s clear from the learners here that further education and training courses offer a high-quality option particularly for those hoping to upskill, retrain or simply take that first step back to learning.

“The Further Education and Training (FET) sector has undergone major structural and policy changes over the last number of years, with the purpose of ensuring that we have a FET sector that is flexible and responsive to the needs of learners and industry alike. It is heartening to see first-hand that these efforts are yielding results.”

‘I’m an Adult Learner 2016’ is available to download here.