AONTAS: National Adult Learning Organisation

Ordinary Member

Ms. Niamh O’Reilly

Street 83-87 Main, 2nd Floor

6 Dublin, Ireland

Tel.: (00353) 1 406 8220/1

mail (at) aontas.com 

www.aontas.com

Mission statement

AONTAS, the National Association of Adult Education was established in 1969, following the first National Adult Education Conference, held in Athlone in May of that year. The name AONTAS is an acronym in the Irish language, Aos Oideachais Naisiunta Tri Aontu Soarlach, meaning 'national adult education through voluntary unification'. The word AONTAS itself is also the Irish word for 'unity' or 'union', so the intention of the original group of interested individuals was that the Association would be identified by its inclusiveness.

Main activities

In keeping with our core values AONTAS will work for an improved adult and community education service by focussing the Strategic Plan on four key priority areas.

  • Policy
  • Promotion
  • Practice
  • Partnership

These four areas are interrelated with and underpinned by a fifth priority which is organisational development.

Why is Adult Education important?

People who have an opportunity to continually learn and develop their skills and capacities:

  • Make our economy grow and develop
  • Ensure that their children develop a love of learning and take full advantage of education
  • Actively participate in their own communities and civil society
  • Support and respect people with different cultural beliefs and abilities
  • Respect and protect the environment for future generations
  • Nurture creativity and imagination
  • Live healthy and fulfilled lives

So: Investing in adult education makes sense for individuals, families, communities and our country as a whole.

Researching the value of adult learning

Research commissioned in 2010 by AONTAS identified a number of social benefits for learners involved in adult and community education. 'More than just a course' is a study of community education funded by the Department of Education and Skills. Community education is an important first step back into second chance learning for many adults and a national piece of research exploring its outcomes has much to offer key stakeholders in adult and community education in Ireland, by telling us about: what approaches work; how they work; what progression routes are followed, and the quality of life benefits that it can have. Read the research "Community education: more than just a course".

A second piece of research in 2011- looked at the outcomes of community education in the non formal sector. "Sowing the seeds of social change" described how community education can contribute towards social change.

Promoting the value of adult learning

AONTAS organises Adult Learners Festival to promote the value of adult and community education. During the festival best practice examples of adult and community education sector are showcased and promoted through the STAR Awards.
Are you thinking about going back to education? Visit the What Next section of our website.
The Adult Learner is the Irish journal of adult and community education founded in the mid 1980s. It aims primarily to serve the needs of the adult education community in Ireland by providing a forum for critical reflection on the practices of teaching and learning. The latest issue of the journal is available online.

Organisation

Strategic Objectives

In keeping with our core values AONTAS will work for an improved adult and community education service by focussing our Strategic Plan on three key themes:

  • Value
  • Voice
  • Visibility

VALUE

AONTAS as a membership organisation:

  • believes in the concept of lifelong learning as a means of enabling people to contribute to and participate personally, socially, economically and collectively in the development of Irish society.
  • affirms and supports the key role of adult and community education in promoting equality, social inclusion and active citizenship.
  • commits to the development and sustainability of a quality adult and community education service.

VOICE

AONTAS as a membership organisation:

  • commits to acting as a critical voice for the adult and community education sector, to lobby for change and reach a wide audience.
  • supports and affirms the voice of adult learners as the core of its advocacy work.
  • commits to articulating the key elements of a quality adult and community education service and lobbying for its development.

VISIBILITY

AONTAS as a membership organisation:

  • commits to promoting the importance, value and role of adult and community education at local, national and international levels.
  • supports and affirms the achievements of adult learners as a means of drawing attention to the key social purpose of adult learning.
  • commits to articulating and demonstrating the importance and quality of the work done by the adult and community education service.

History

AONTAS, the National Association of Adult Education was established in 1969, following the first National Adult Education Conference, held in Athlone in May of that year. The name AONTAS is an acronym in the Irish language, Aos Oideachais Naisiunta Tri Aontu Soarlach, meaning 'national adult education through voluntary unification'. The word AONTAS itself is also the Irish word for 'unity' or 'union', so the intention of the original group of interested individuals was that the Association would be identified by its inclusiveness.

When launching AONTAS in 1969, the then Minister for Education, Mr Brian Lenihan TD, also announced the establishment of a committee to examine the nature of adult education in Ireland and to make recommendations regarding its future structure. The committee published the first report on adult education in the history of the State in 1973. The Murphy Report, as it was subsequently known, recognised the value and importance of AONTAS and concluded that 'it has the potential to become an effective National Association'.

Find out more about the history of AONTAS on the website.

Publications

http://www.aontas.com/pubsandlinks/publications.html

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