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Community education requires investment to future-proof Irish communities post Brexit

07/12/2017
Language: EN

The following article summarises some of the key messages from AONTAS' CEN10 conference on the 29/11/17 and is taken from activelink.ie

 

Community education must be invested in throughout the island of Ireland to minimise the impact of Brexit on Ireland’s adult learners, communities, and society as a whole. That’s according to AONTAS, the national adult learning organisation who held a conference  marking the 10-year anniversary of its Community Education Network (CEN).

Need for sustainable funding to protect those at risk
Speaking at the conference, Niamh O’Reilly, CEO of AONTAS, said: “Over the 10 years it has been in existence, the CEN has been raising the profile of the importance of community education. Community education sets itself apart from other education providers in that it is not merely a tool for getting learners back to work. While this is of course important, community education also supports community cohesion and civic engagement.

“Community education places the learner at the centre, supporting vulnerable and socially excluded adult learners. With Brexit and political uncertainty looming, there is a very real risk that the most vulnerable in society will be the worst impacted. In order to meet the needs of communities throughout the island of Ireland a sustainable funding programme for community education is necessary to protect those most at risk.

“The nature of community education is that it responds to the needs of the local community, and plays an important role in community development and active citizenship. Facing political uncertainty, rising social inequality and an increasingly populist post-Brexit Europe the sector must be supported at national level to protect the disadvantaged, socially excluded groups in society.

“We’ve been meeting with our counterparts in Northern Ireland in order to strengthen our links with them post-Brexit, but this must also be strengthened by support at policy level for the community education sector.”

Input by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney TD
Opening the conference this morning was Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney TD, who said: “Community education organisations play a hugely important role in communities throughout the island of Ireland – by supporting those in society who are marginalised to return to education, as well as the vital function of promoting civic engagement among the wider community.

“Brexit will bring with it uncharted challenges for communities, and the steps taken by community education organisations from north and south of the border to connect with each other, identify potential challenges, and develop solutions to these challenges before the UK leaves the European Union must be commended, and I would encourage all organisations to maintain this level of cross-border engagement post-Brexit.”

Over 170 community education providers and learners attended the conference this morning. Also speaking was Dr Jim Crowther, Senior Lecturer in Community Education at the University of Edinburgh on the role of community education in a changed world with a focus on the rise of populism across Europe.

Established in 2007, the AONTAS Community Education Network (CEN) is a national platform of over 100 independent community education member organisations that are committed to social change. The CEN engages in research, advocacy, promotion, EU Projects and continuous professional development (CPD) activities in order to raise the profile and gain greater recognition of community education provision. 

 

Article source: https://www.activelink.ie/content/community-exchange/news/34206 posted 29/11/17 

 

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