“We need to educate young people on active citizenship and democracy"

A new story from adult learning advocate Kayla Dibble, Digital Marketing student in the Technical University of the Shannon, Athlone. This is being shared as part of the AONTAS One Step Up 2022 information campaign which raises awareness about the benefits of returning to education as an adult

I left secondary school at the start of sixth year without achieving any formal qualifications due to illness. At 21, I returned to education in VTOS Roscommon and have completed a Level 4 ICT Skills and a Level 5 Business Administration course which is the equivalent to the Leaving Certificate.

Earlier this summer, I attended an event by European Movement Ireland on “Local Dialogue on Youth and Democracy” in the Dublin City Council Chambers at City Hall. I went with Ecem Akarca, who is the EU Projects Officer at AONTAS, Ireland’s national adult learning organisation.

Kayla and Ecem on colourful swings in the garden at Google on a sunny day

This event focused on the importance of young people using their voices on local, national, and international levels to improve people’s lives, now and in the future. Speakers shared ideas about the importance of bringing citizens closer to policymakers and how young people are the best ambassadors of not only Ireland but of Europe too.

Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions, spoke about the launch of the European Charter for Youth and Democracy. The goal is to build a youth-friendly democratic space so that their voices are heard and represented in the European Union.

Everyone agreed that we need to educate young people on active citizenship and democracy. An example is through studying Politics and Society in secondary school. Ecem and I spoke to Diandra Ní Bhuachalla, who is the UN Youth Delegate for Ireland, about continuing to reach out to young adults who are no longer in the formal education system so that they are remain in the loop about the latest updates and opportunities in adult learning in Ireland and Europe.

Ecem and I left the event feeling very inspired and empowered to continue to ensure adult learners of all ages are included and better educated in public matters. This event really opened my eyes up to how essential the role of Adult Education and Learner Voice is when promoting active citizenship and encouraging young people to use their voices.

Ecem organised for us to have a tour of the Google EMEA Headquarters on Grand Canal Dock in Dublin. We had lunch and met with two employees, Berna and Meltem, from Marketing and Trust & Safety. This was a huge deal for me because I have wanted to visit for a long time after hearing how incredible the facilities are. I also have a huge interest in Digital Marketing and would like to hopefully build a career in that area someday.

We were able to eat some incredibly fancy food that is free for all employees and their guests, gain more insight into life as a Google employee and have a lot of fun in their outdoor recreational space which has swings instead of chairs!

Overall, I had a really fun and enlightening day and I want to say thank you to Ecem for organising and spending the day with me! I look forward to more such days and events in the future.

At the end of September, I will be starting a Bachelor of Business (Honours) in Digital Marketing at the Technological University of the Shannon, Athlone after going through the Mature Student and Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) CAO route. I hope to eventually have a marketing or similar career, in the education sector or elsewhere, and continue to advocate for Adult Learners and the FET sector.

 This piece from Kayla is being shared as part of the One Step Up information campaign, happening from 29th August to 9th September 2022, as part of New European Agenda for Adult Learning (NEAAL) project. One Step Up raises awareness about the benefits of returning to education as an adult. If you’d like to learn more, visit today or call us on freephone 1 800 303 669 and chat with a member of the AONTAS team!