When AONTAS Star Awards winners 2012 were announced as a part of the Adult Learners' Week it was a well attended event.
Irish President Michael D. Higgins announced the winners of the AONTAS Star Awards 2012 in five categories - Munster, Leinster,
Connaught, Ulster and Nationwide, and presented them with their awards
at a special ceremony gathering over 250 people.
Speaking at the awards, President Higgins
said, 'We know that career and indeed other opportunities are often
determined by the level of educational attainment we achieve. For some
the lifelong learning journey has been a natural progression through
primary and second level and onwards but for others that experience may
have been very different and the path of reengagement with the world of
education may seem daunting and uncertain. Many of the groups nominated
for the Awards today have done wonderful work within communities in
helping others with previously low levels of education to resume the
Award winners this year include Age Action
Ireland for their 'Getting Started' programme, Croí na Gaillimhe
Resource Centre (a St Vincent de Paul centre in Galway), Limerick
Community Education Network and the Knockmay Women's Quilting Project
from Portaoise. 'Destined'- a bespoke learning and development programme
for people with intellectual disabilities delivered by NICVA (Northern
Ireland Council for Voluntary Action) was the recipient of the Ulster
Award. Music at the ceremony was provided by the Ballymun Lullaby Choir
which includes a string group, a brass group and a choir group.
is the sixth year that AONTAS has organised the STAR Awards. Berni
Brady, Director of AONTAS said 'The STAR Awards has gone from strength
to strength each year. When we started the initiative back in 2007 we
received 43 nominations. This year, AONTAS received 119 nominations. The
nominations give an insight into how adult education can respond to the
learning needs of adults. Initiatives that have been shortlisted for
these awards have really demonstrated strong outcomes to their work -
helping people move onto further and higher education and employment.
Through collaboration at local level, these initiatives are enhancing
education services for people, contributing to the development of their
communities and seeding ideas for small but sustainable social
enterprises. For many adults around the country who are feeling
disillusioned in these difficult times, adult education is offering them
a second chance.'
Some of the initiatives shortlisted were
developed by local VECs. Others have strong support from the private
sector through the involvement of companies like Google and Intel. A
number of organisations in the community and voluntary sector also
featured in the shortlist - they include Focus Ireland, Age Action and
the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed (INOU).
Judging Panel for the STAR Awards this year brings together a number of
experts in adult and community education. The panel includes
representation from the VEC sector, Teagasc, Pobal, the NQAI (National
Qualifications Authority of Ireland), the community sector, the Small
Firms Association (SFA) and academia. The Judges had a difficult task in
deciding on the winners this year. The initial 119 nominations were
reduced to a shortlist of 41 projects. In early February, the judges
travelled around the country to meet with the shortlisted projects.
Speaking on behalf of the Judges, Claire Byrne from the NQAI said 'The
winning projects demonstrated a high level of collaboration,
imagination, entrepreneurial spirit and actively involved learners
themselves. This really gave them the X factor.'