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Joy-Tendai Kangere, originally from Zimbabwe and now living in Firhouse, Dublin was elected as a learner representative to the board of AONTAS, the National Adult Learning Organisation at the organisation’s General Meeting in Dublin yesterday (28.11.2018)
Ms Kangere returned to learning to study a Bachelor of Civil Law degree in UCD Sutherland School of Law while balancing family life with two young children. During her time in UCD, she advocated for people under-represented at third level to access and participate fully in third level education. After receiving the prestigious Denham Scholarship, Joy is now training as a Barrister at King’s Inn.
Longford woman and Deputy CEO of Longford Women’s Link Tara Farrell was elected president of AONTAS at the meeting.
Speaking about the elections, Liz Waters, outgoing AONTAS President, said: “After six years, I am delighted to hand over the reins to Tara Farrell. Tara’s proven expertise and her commitment to adult learning will be an enormous asset to AONTAS in the coming years. I am also delighted to welcome Joy-Tendai as a learner representative on the AONTAS Board. She will bring a wealth of advocacy experience and knowledge of adult learning to her new role.”
Adult Education Survey
At the General Meeting, delegates from throughout Ireland learned of the stark differences in lifelong learning participation depending on your age, health, gender, level of education, family background and where you are from during a presentation by the CSO’s Helen McGrath. Ms McGrath was outlining the findings of the recent Adult Education Survey.
The survey revealed that:
- People who have not completed the Leaving Certificate are seven times less likely to participate in formal education than those you have a third level qualification.
- The ability to get to a training location was six times more likely to be an issue for people in border regions, than for people living in Dublin.
- 25% of people who left education after primary school and 16% of people who left school after the Junior or Inter Certificate cited health and age as a reason they could not participate in lifelong learning. Just 4% of those with third level qualifications cited health and age as a barrier.
Against the background of educational inequality amongst adult learners in Ireland, Niamh O’Reilly, CEO, AONTAS, explained, “This survey reveals that significant obstacles exist that prevent adults from accessing education; including the affordability of courses, the cost of travel, age and health, and family responsibilities like childcare. At a time of economic recovery, we cannot afford to continue a trend of widening inequalities. A cross-departmental approach is needed together with targeted investment for the most disadvantaged adult learners. Basic human needs need to be met, very often the motivation to learn is there but there are too many additional barriers that prevent people from engaging in education.
“In Ireland we are fortunate to have a proven method for engaging hard to reach groups, particularly women and marginalised members of our society such as minorities and immigrants. Community education builds the capacity of learners and their wider social circles to fulfil their educational needs and aspirations within a supportive environment. These local learning opportunities address regional disparities in learning, providing basic immediate supports such as providing childcare to learners that are parents.”