On 30th June AONTAS launched its inaugural CEN Census report, which in addition to providing the first ever comprehensive research into community education provision in Ireland, also focused on the impact Covid has had on providers and learners.
The research aimed to uncover who engages in community education, what courses are provided, how it is funded, and critically how it effectively supports people to fulfil their potential.
There were responses from 76 community education organisations which were complemented by feedback from 192 learners.
AONTAS CEO, Dr Niamh O’Reilly, said:
Community education builds agency and self-confidence, and is a key part of the national access agenda. Moreover, in addition to the decades of expertise gained in tackling educational inequality, community education has been a lifeline for many learners. Offering connection in a supportive environment that acknowledges the lived experiences whilst being acutely aware of the challenges their learners faced, came to the fore during the pandemic.
In addition to insightful analysis of the quantitative and qualitative date collected, the report makes three recommendations:
- Commit to an equitable, sustainable, multi-annual funding package that empowers community education organisations to address the needs of learners and local communities.
- Ensure Community education is recognised as a key part of creating an equitable tertiary education system.
- Support national research to build an evidence base on the impact of COVID-19 on adult learners, with particular emphasis on target groups.
The full report can be downloaded from p2 of our Reports/Resources section.