Community education is the most inclusive part of the tertiary education system as it successfully engages people at a local level, mainly within socioeconomically disadvantaged areas, through a supportive learning environment. Community Education provision encompasses a wide range of flexible, part-time, accredited and non-accredited courses that build a learner’s confidence and which frequently come with a package of supports suited to the needs of an individual learner and specific learner cohorts.
People who engage in community education include: early school leavers, lone parents, people in low paid/precarious employment, people who struggle with urban and rural isolation, people living with mental health issues, people who have experienced homelessness or addiction, long term unemployed, people from the Traveller Community, one parent families (mainly mothers) and people living in Direct Provision centres across Ireland. Community education works to mitigate educational disadvantage, combat social isolation and foster personal development. Services in many community education organisations include: childcare facilities, one-to-one counselling, domestic violence supports, mentoring, one-to-one and small group educational supports, technology-enhanced learning, and access to career guidance.
In discussing the campaign, AONTAS CEO, Niamh O’Reilly states that:
“During the COVID-19 crisis, community education organisations have demonstrated exceptional agility in responding to the diverse range of challenges the community faces. Efforts to maintain contact and support learners has been a lifeline for many during these challenging times. In recognition of the innovation and central role that community education will have in supporting Ireland’s recovery, AONTAS wants to shine a light on this work and build political support for this vital, yet overlooked, part of the education system.”
The #ExperienceCommunityEd Campaign
This nationwide campaign will showcase community education providers across Ireland, the opportunities they provide and the support they offer local learners. The campaign will harness social media to highlight the great work community education promotes and the choice and opportunities it offers local learners. Learners, community groups, education organisations, politicians and the general public are encouraged to get involved to support this important asset to rural and urban life.
COVID-19 has impacted on many courses, meetings, Open Days, recruitment and funding activities and this campaign is designed to help bring the positives of community education to a new audience.
Through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn you can directly show your support for how community education contributes to social cohesion, health and wellbeing, educational equity, sustainability, sustainable employment, democracy, social inclusion, community building and much more.
So how you can get involved?
If you are involved in the sector promote your work on your social media and tag @AONTAS and include #ExperienceCommunityEd
Support your local community education provider by sharing and liking their Facebook posts and Tweets #ExperienceCommunityEd
Get in touch if we can help support your involvement in the #ExperienceCommunityEd campaign. Call 01-4068220, email firstname.lastname@example.org or message any of our social media channels.
To learn more about the amazing work that independently managed community education organisations are doing for Ireland, please watch the short videos produced by AONTAS for our Annual Policy Day in March 2020. One provides a summary of the day (available here) while the other provides an insight into "Community Education Across Ireland".
AONTAS CEO, Niamh O’Reilly and AONTAS Board Member Joy-Tendai Kangere met with Minister Simon Harris TD on Thursday 2nd July. Click here to learn more. AONTAS followed up with the Minister outlining the needs for community education in a detailed budget submission, available here.