AONTAS is collaborating with stakeholders across community, further and higher education to document the impact of the COVID-19 on educational equality. As part of this work, AONTAS CEO Niamh O’Reilly recently published two articles highlighting how, more than a year since the beginning of the pandemic, the resulting exacerbation of educational disadvantage has worsened long-standing structural inequalities.
Since March 2020, through our advocacy, research, communications and capacity building activities, AONTAS has captured the impact of the pandemic on education provision at a local level. Through insights gained from educators and learners, we have a strong sense of what is required to support access, engagement and a positive learner experience.
The articles: “The best of both worlds’: What the pandemic can teach us about inclusion”, published by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning and “COVID-19 has widened the educational divide. We urgently need to tackle it”, an opinion piece published by The Irish Times recognise both the benefits and complex limitations presented by online and blended learning options. Further, they highlight the fallout from COVID-19, especially for marginalised learners, some of the lessons we can learn, and the importance of shaping future education policy around the lived experiences of learners.
“COVID-19 has widened the educational divide. We urgently need to tackle it”
In this opinion piece published by The Irish Times on the 13th May 2021, Niamh drew on the expertise of AONTAS members and adult learning providers across Ireland, including Southill Family Resource Centre in Limerick City and Kinsale College in County Cork. The article calls for cross-sectoral collaboration and an action-focused strategy to mitigate educational disadvantage and the long-term impacts of COVID-19, with a specific focus on marginalised learners and the community education and Further Education and Training (FET) sector. Read the article here.
“The best of both worlds’: What the pandemic can teach us about inclusion”
In this article published by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, Niamh emphasises the need to apply our learning from COVID-19 to address existing educational inequalities that the pandemic has thrown into sharp focus. One year on, there is an opportunity to build on the benefits of blended learning to further educational inclusion, as opposed to hastily returning to the old system.
AONTAS is committed to advocating for educational equality for all adults in Ireland. Please email email@example.com with any queries. Keep up to date with our advocacy work by following our social media channels including @aontas on Twitter.