National winners of prestigious adult education awards announced

The winners of the AONTAS STAR Awards were announced at a special ceremony in Number 6, Kildare Street, Dublin officiated by RTÉ sports presenter, Marty Morrissey.

The STAR Awards (Showcasing Teamwork, Awarding Recognition) are an awards initiative organised by the national adult learning organisation, AONTAS, to recognise and celebrate the work undertaken by adult learning initiatives throughout Ireland.

The national winners announced today are:

  • St. Catherine’s Community Service Centre, Carlow, for their ‘Making Connections, Learning and Training’ initiative, which provides one-to-one training programmes in employability skills for people recovering from addiction and substance misuse. They were the winners in the ‘Adult Learning Initiative that Promote the Learner Voice’, category.
  • An Cosán, based in Tallaght, Dublin, for their ‘Digital Pathways Programme’. This initiative supported 250 individuals from disadvantaged communities to access I.T. and employability workshops. An Cosán were successful in the ‘Adult Learning Initiatives that Promote Digital Inclusion’ category.
  • Soilse, based in Dublin 1, won an award for its programme working with those in recovery. The programme, run by the HSE, provides group and one-to-one work workshops for learners which facilitates a personal learning journey, transforming attitudes, values, skills and purpose. Soilse won in the ‘Large Organisation’ category for 'Adult Learning Initiatives that Promote Wellbeing'.
  • Monaghan-based Blayney Blades CLG Women’s Group, who won for their initiative 'Moving On Sport and Recreation Programme’. The initiative provides training to those with no formal qualifications, in health-related fitness, food and nutrition, work experience, communications, human biology, IT skills, word processing, computer applications and personal effectiveness. The programme won in the ‘Small and Medium Organisation’ category for 'Adult Learning Initiatives that Promote Wellbeing'.
  • National Learning Network's programme Cara Outreach Support Service, based in Waterford, won the ‘Large Organisation’ award in the 'Adult Learning Initiatives that Promote Social Inclusion' category. The Cara Outreach Support Service provides specialised support to individuals with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, offering a highly proactive, structured and holistic service, in addition to ASD specific workshops addressing the unique needs of learners.
  • Dublin 8’s RADE programme won the ‘Small and Medium Organisation’ award in the ‘'Adult Learning Initiatives that Promote Social Inclusion' category. The RADE programme engages drug users with the arts and therapeutic supports and provides a platform for their artistic expression.

Commenting at the awards ceremony, Niamh O’Reilly, CEO of AONTAS, said: “I’m delighted to award these fantastic initiatives for the outstanding work they are doing in the area of adult learning. The STAR Awards is about highlighting the broad range of benefits from adult learning, the diversity of provision, the range of innovative models of best practice that facilitate personal development, confidence building so that learners can fulfil their educational aspirations.”

“We have a great tradition of adult learning in Ireland, particularly community education. The STAR Awards gives us a fantastic opportunity to show the positive impact of this learning on individuals, their families and communities.”

The STAR Awards are now in their 12th year, and form part of the programme of events of AONTAS’ annual Adult Learners’ Festival, taking place nationwide 5th to 9th March. The theme of this year’s festival is #LoveLifelongLearning.

O’Reilly continued: “We chose this theme as Ireland has a relatively low participation in lifelong learning (6-7 per cent). The Festival provides an opportunity for education providers to have open days, taster session and coffee mornings which are designed to encourage people to take a step back into education.”

Further information on the Adult Learners’ Festival can be found here:



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