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Community Education FAQs

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Have a question that is not answered here? You can dowload the One Step Up information booklet for free here, email us by clicking here or call our Freephone Helpline on 1800 303 669.

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Welcome

The 15th annual AONTAS Adult Learners’ Festival will take place from 1st – 5th March 2021. While AONTAS usually encourages adult learning providers throughout Ireland to open their centre doors for free open days, events and workshops, this year will look a little different as we adapt to the current COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions in place. In 2021 we will run our first ever virtual Adult Learners’ Festival online.

By building partnerships and working together at local and national levels, we will send a strong message of hope to Ireland’s Adult Learning sector and promote the importance of Educational Equality and Mitigating Educational Disadvantage in a time of COVID-19.

 

Better Together

The theme of this year’s festival is “Building Back Better Together - #BetterTogether”. While we can’t come together for our usual in-person events, we are excited to collaborate with our members and organisations in the sector to deliver an exciting calendar of virtual events and opportunities to engage online.

Join us and get involved from 1st – 5th March – this is your week to highlight the incredible work that your organisation has been doing, so let us join together to raise the profile of adult learning across Ireland.

 

How Can You Get Involved?

You can be part of the Adult Learners’ Festival in a number of ways. The free resources and online supports below offer opportunities to engage with the festival online and to organise an event as part of the festival calendar. We encourage adult learning providers to use the Festival week as an opportunity to open up online classes, information sessions or coffee-catch ups to the public. While these events are usually open to your local public, virtual events offer a good opportunity to reach learners nationally. Additional supports and information around this is available below. AONTAS will promote all Festival events through our communications channels which had a reach of over 5.2 million in 2020, including via the One Step Up Calendar. To submit your Adult Learners' Festival event Click Here 

Host your own Event

Maybe you would like to organise a "taster session" or "open day" event that showcases your organisation's work or the courses available. Alternatively, you may like to invite your learners to attend a virtual coffee/tea morning. Ideas for organising an event are available in the Festival Communications Toolkit. You can then submit your online events for FREE to the One Step Up calendar (events must be free of charge). We will also be using the One Step Up Calendar to promote events taking place as part of the Adult Learners' Festival 2021 to thousands of people across Ireland. 

Download the Festival Communications toolkit below for support with organising your event and to find out more about other opportunities to get involved in the festival.


For more information please Click Here

The Government of Ireland, through the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science may provide forms of financial supports to eligible adults returning to education via a number of programmes.  These include:

For more information about how these affect social welfare payments and your eligibility to apply for these supports click Here and contact your free and confidential local Adult Education Guidance and Information Service. You should also make sure to tell your Intreo Centre that you are undertaking a course to see what other supports might be available to you.

For more information about Social protection and other supports to return to education click Here.

The Community Education Network (CEN) was established in 2007 by AONTAS. It is a network of over 100 independently managed community education providers who work collaboratively, sharing information and resources, engaging in professional development and working to ensure that community education is valued and resourced.

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Community Education refers to the learning and social development of individuals and groups within their communities using a variety of formal and informal methods. A common feature of this kind of community-based approach to adult learning is that programmes and activities are developed jointly with the communities and the participants in a dialogue. Individuals and communities are empowered by learning which often involves making positive changes in learners’ lives and in their communities. Some of the main characteristics are:
  • Working and learning in a partnership with tutors and coordinators

  • Equal participation and equal rights

  • Empowerment and development of self-confidence

  • Inclusion of disadvantaged groups

  • Flexibility and being centred around the needs of the learner

  • Setting learners up to succeed and, if they want to, progress to other forms of education and higher levels of qualifications.

Community education is adult learning which takes place in local community settings across Ireland. It is learner-centred and responds to the needs of the local community.

Community education has a track record of effectively engaging with people who wish to return to education but may not have the confidence or opportunity to do so in a formal setting.

Click on the videos below to hear more about what community education is about:

There are hundreds of organisations across the island of Ireland who provide community education to thousands of learners in every local community. To find out contact details and locations near you Click Here or download the One Step Up Information Booklet and see pages 41-48.

 

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Your local Education and Training Board (ETB) may also provide Community Education. To find out more you can go to your local ETB and contact your nearest  Adult Education Guidance Service 

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Also visit the Further Education and Training Course Hub (FETCH) to search for courses near you: www.fetchcourses.ie

There may be a number of financial supports open to you. Possible options can be discussed privately and confidentially with your local Adult Education Guidance Service to make sure you receive all the most up to date and accurate information, as well as help you may need with making an application to receive social welfare payments.

Community education provides a safe, supportive and flexible learning space that’s sets you up to succeed. If you feel that personal development, self-confidence, developing skills to help you learn are important then community education may be a perfect fit for you in your return to education and potential lifelong learning journey.

The best thing to do is contact your local Adult Education Guidance Service to discuss this option in more detail.

Time commitments will vary depending on the kind of learning you are doing. Most courses are part-time and can occur once a week or a few times per month.

Many learners will have to attend a set number of classes or participate in a certain amount of activities. Importantly, community education is flexible to your learning needs and every effort is made to cater to your family, caring and financial circumstances. Community education meets the learner where the learner is at in order to provide an experience that best suits them.

The best thing to do is to directly contact your local community education provider. To find contact details for your local community education provider Click Here

You can also ask your local Adult Education Guidance Service for more information. Click Here to find contact details.

This depends on the kind of learning you are participating in and the specific course you decide to do. The best thing to do to find out if you will receive any accreditation is to contact your local community education provider or ask your local Adult Education Guidance Service for more information.

For more information on accreditation Click Here.

To find contact details for your local community education provider Click Here

Absolutely. Community education provides a safe, supportive and flexible learning space that’s sets you up to succeed. If you feel that personal development, self-confidence, and developing skills that help you to learn are important, like improving reading and writing, then community education may be a perfect fit for you in your return to education and lifelong learning journey.

The best thing to do is contact your local Adult Education Guidance Service to discuss your community education options in more detail and how community education can support you to progress on to other kinds of education and levels of qualifications.

Community education is also an excellent first step on your learning pathway towards accessing a college or university and getting a Third-level qualification.

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