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Summary Report from Regional Meetings 2009
In autumn 2009 AONTAS embarked on a series of regional meetings across the country in order to support the sector, strengthen its capacity to organise and lobby, and demonstrate the importance, value and innovation of the work done by adult and community education providers. Since our VEC members are key providers, AONTAS asked them to partner it in hosting the meetings which served as a platform for highlighting the excellent collaborative work delivered across the country and created a vital space for discussion on the current challenges facing the sector.
Lifelong learning and education is a key instrument for addressing the challenges of a recession. Ireland's previous economic success was attributed to a number of factors, one in particular being the educated workforce which provided a basis for a knowledge economy. Investing in our existing strengths, in order to transform the current situation, is vital to our economic survival. To ignore the transformative potential of adult learning and education would, at a minimum, be a missed opportunity; re-skilling and up-skilling are essential, so too is providing a variety of educational opportunities, both formal and non-formal. Investment in adult learning and education is key for the economic development of a country. Adult education and learning fosters sustainable development, social inclusion, active citizens (democracy, tolerance, active citizenship, equity, intercultural dialogue) and also in terms of health benefits, particularly in older learners.
While acknowledging the current fiscal constraints that the Government is under, we would strongly caution against withdrawing or reducing funding. Such regressive action would cause long-term damage to an already under-resourced sector and would impede the current adult education provision. This paper outlines the current challenges facing the adult education and also highlights a selection of innovative collaborative practices that facilitates quality and effective provision for adults.