Solas- Serving Adult Learners 2012
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Since the National Adult Learners’ Festival was established in 2007 AONTAS has organised a Lobby for Learning day to close the week. The purpose of the day is to bring the attention of government to the important role of adult and community education and to make a case for its support. With the announcement of SOLAS in July 2011, the proposed amalgamation of the VECs to form Local Education and Training Boards and the changes taking place on the qualifications front, adult and community education is currently going through the most profound changes in its history.Before Christmas 2011, the Department of Education and Skills circulated a paper on the development of SOLAS for feedback from stakeholders. AONTAS responded to this and the full response can be viewed at www.aontas.com/publications. The AONTAS response focuses on the learner and so we took the opportunity of the Festival to organize an event which would give voice to adult learners and facilitate them to contribute to the development of the new integrated further education and training service.The Minister of Education and Skills, Ciaran Cannon was invited to attend along with two other members of the SOLAS implementation Group, Paul O’Toole, CEO of FAS and Fiona Hartley, CEO of Wicklow VEC and IVEA representative. Seamus Hempenstall, PO of theFurther Education Section of the DES also attended. The event built on work done by AONTAS two years ago in facilitating dialogue between adult learners and politicians through the replication of a T.D.s ‘clinic’, a process which proved to be highly successful.