8 Nov 2020

AONTAS and Anti-Racism Work in Adult Learning

Following the publication of a blog post by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) in which AONTAS CEO Niamh O’Reilly and AONTAS Board member Joy-Tendai Kangere reflect on the role of adult education as a process for anti-racism, AONTAS also dedicated two of its weekly membership webinars to facilitating discussions on anti-racism.

On the 10th June 2020, AONTAS invited Joy to facilitate our weekly membership webinar. Joy facilitated a crucial dialogue on incorporating anti-racism in adult education. On the 24th June 2020 Shane O’Curry, Director of the Irish Network Against Racism (INAR) was invited to educate and empower AONTAS members on the range of issues surrounding Racism in Ireland and build on the conversation started by AONTAS Board member Joy-Tendai Kangere at the previous week’s webinar. Since then AONTAS has set about to further anti-racism action in adult learning and to support our members to understand and embed anti-racism across the adult and community education sector.

On Thursday, 20th August, AONTAS and EPALE came together to host an online workshop on why Black Lives Matter still matters, and why it matters in Ireland in 2020. The workshop was delivered as part of the ‘Adult and Community Education: Supported Learner Pathways 2020-2021’ project under the European Agenda for Adult Learning (EAAL), funded by SOLAS and the European Commission. To read a blog about the event click here.

In October AONTAS joined with the City of Dublin Education and Training Board (CDETB) to deliver training entitled Racial Justice and Community Education – Awareness, Reflection and Practice. Due to the importance of this work and a large number of applications to participate, AONTAS will continue to grow, support and cement antiracism work across its organisational activities and the adult and community education sector.
The driving force behind this initiative came from requests from AONTAS members and interaction with online AONTAS events. Racism in Ireland is something which AONTAS members recognise and know needs to be addressed.

The adult and community education sector in Ireland plays an important role in combating racism and can be proud of its strong track record in this area. The sector consistently makes an invaluable contribution to increasing cultural integration, promoting racial equality, strengthening democratic values and fighting xenophobia by facilitating greater educational equity. These achievements come about through the transformative and empowering work carried out with marginalised and racialised minority groups across the entire country.

A natural response from the sector to the issues raised by the global Black Lives Matter movement has been to redouble its efforts and reflect on how to make racial justice more central to its broader social justice mission. The decision to develop and deliver this unique training offer was based on this need and stemmed from the core values of AONTAS members.    
The participants showed a massive commitment and an incredibly high level of enthusiasm. Participants included: Knockanrawley Resource Centre, the Dublin Adult Learning Centre, Soilse, CMS Learning Centre, Longford Women's Link, South Dublin County Partnership, Ballyhoura Development CLG, Killucan Area Services, the National Learning Network (Rehab), Ability@Work Cope Foundation, Clare Local Development Company and AONTAS staff.

AONTAS would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their participation over the three weeks; and to especially thank Amel Yacef and Caoimhe Kerins from CDETB for creating such a safe and brave space, for helping all the participants to enhance their understanding of racial justice and how they can, and must, apply this to everyday learning spaces.
This training was one strand of broader work being carried out by AONTAS as part of its strategy to build the capacity of its members -organisations, practitioners and learners to further enhance and embed their antiracism activities. AONTAS also strongly encourages adult educators and community education practitioners from all migrant communities and minority ethnic backgrounds to become AONTAS members. It is vital to the success of the sector that more diverse voices be warmly welcomed, heard and amplified.   

For more information on this training please contact Sam O’Brien-Olinger, AONTAS Information and Policy Officer at:
AONTAS is committed to supporting our members around anti-racism work and will keep you up to date on future activities planned.