CREATING INTERCULTURAL COMMUNITIES
The Role of Adult and Community Education
AONTAS and EAEA conference, Ireland October 19-21 2008
Registration will start in mid-July - we'll inform you as soon as it is online.
See the video with AONTAS director Berni Brady!
2008 has been designated by the European Commission as the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. The decision to focus on intercultural dialogue reflects the growing diversity within the EU as a consequence of inward migration. The National Co-ordinating body in Ireland is the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI) which has identified six programmes for the year, one of which is education. Interculturalism is one of the three core principles of the White Paper on Adult Education, Learning for Life (2000). It identifies:-
The need to frame educational policy and practice in the context of serving a diverse population as opposed to a uniform one, and the development of curricula, materials, training and inservice, modes of assessment and delivery methods which accept such diversity as the norm. This refers not only to combating racism and encouraging participation of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers in education, but also a recognition that many minority groups such as travellers, people with disabilities, older adults, participants in disadvantaged areas, may have distinct needs and cultural patterns which must be respected and reflected in an educational context. It also envisages a more active role by adult educators in the promotion of Irish language and culture.(p 13)
During the past ten years Ireland has experienced a rapid growth in ethnic, religious and cultural diversity, as a consequence of the most significant recent inward migration in its history. The most recent Census (2006) shows that one in ten of Ireland's current population has nationality that is not Irish by birth. Between 2002 and 2006 newcomers to Ireland increased from 224,000 to 420,000. The fastest growing category is EU nationals particularly from Eastern Europe and the Baltic states along with people from Asia and Africa. Polish nationals are the biggest minority in Ireland. Much of the inward migration is closely linked to the very rapid economic growth rates but Ireland also has become home to a number of asylum seekers and refugees with specific needs.
The changing demographic in Ireland offers new opportunities to create a richly diverse and multicultural Ireland and it also presents us with new challenges to our own thinking about Irish identity, integrating new ethnic groups and cultures, supporting migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers and creating intercultural communities. Adult and community education has played a key role in meeting the needs of our new communities ranging from the provision of language learning to creating opportunities to share and understand new cultural experiences. In 2005 AONTAS held a conference to mark the European Year of Citizenship through Education which provided an opportunity to create a space for dialogue about the concept of citizenship and hear about the experience of citizenship for newcomers to Ireland. The essential finding that emerged from that conference was that adult education is a process of human and social development integral to the exercise of citizenship, to the strengthening of democracy and to the building of sustainable peace and security in society.
In 2008 AONTAS aims to build on this dialogue by examining in a more indepth way how adult and community education is contributing to creating intercultural communities and how its role in this development can be strengthened and supported.
The objectives of the Conference are:
- To explore the concept of Intercultural Dialogue in the context of a rapidly changing Europe.
- To provide a forum for discussion on the meaning of intercultural dialogue in an Irish context
- To showcase the role of adult and community education in promoting intercultural dialogue through examples of practice.
- To explore ways in which adult and community education can be developed to realise the core principle of Interculturalism as identified in the White Paper.
The Conference will provide a rich mix of analysis, dialogue and practice drawing on a diverse range of activities currently taking place within the adult and community education sector. It will provide participants with opportunities to learn from one another, to showcase their work, meet new people and seed new ideas and thinking which will feed into their future work. All are we come to this exciting event on October 21st in the Grand Hotel, Malahide, Co. Dublin.
Practical information and registrations