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ITB Lecturer authors report highlighting importance of Community Education

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23/07/2018 10:18:55

ITBDublin News


Donegal Community Education Forum and Donegal Education and Training Board recently launched Purpose People and Process: Community Education in Donegal 2018.
Dr. Liam McGlynn of the Community and Youth Development Programme at ITB was lead researcher and report author in this investigation into the current nature of community education in Donegal. Partners Training for Transformation assisted in the facilitation of focus groups for the research.
This research was undertaken in the context of Ireland emerging from one of the worst recessions since the foundation of the state marked by unemployment, emigration, indebtedness, homelessness, poverty and income inequality, health inequalities and also Brexit. Donegal has been impacted by this recession to a significant extent due to its unique location at the edge and border of Ireland. The experience of community education here in Donegal can be instructive for Ireland as a whole.



The report is structured in eight chapters summarised below. Chapter one outlines the role of the Donegal Community Education Forum and sets the context for the research.
Chapter two revisits the meaning of community education drawing on Freire's five principles and the AONTAS definition. Community education is recalled here as a process of personal and community transformation empowering people to work collectively to bring about positive change in social, economic and political systems and structures. It is particularly focused on people in the community, those experiencing poverty, marginalisation, inequality and discrimination.



Chapter three presents the policy framework of community education in Ireland. The chapter summarises key policy documents ranging from Learning for Life: The White Paper on Adult Education to The Further Education and Training Strategy 2014-2019. A key assertion in all the policy documents is the social purpose of community education at a time when education is predominantly focused on STEM meeting exclusively economic, scientific and technical needs. Whilst these are important, we must guard against the devaluation of the humanities in our education system. After all, we are a society not just an economy.
Chapter four presents the socio-economic profile of Donegal, highlighting a set of background indicators which are most relevant for community education including, population and dependency, poverty and deprivation, health, education, unemployment, homelessness housing/accommodation, and transport. It also focuses on the status of vulnerable groups with whom community education providers engage in their work.



The findings are presented in chapters five, six and seven according to the framework of the research; the purpose, people and process in community education. Chapter five presents the findings in relation to the purpose of community education, the needs being met, the achievements and benefits of community education and the content of courses. Chapter six presents the findings in relation to the people who support and facilitate community education and those who benefit from community education in Donegal. Chapter seven presents the findings in relation to the processes involved in delivering community education in Donegal including recruitment, teaching, leadership and administrative processes.
Chapter eight draws together the outcome of a Think Tank workshop which considered the findings and identifies six key recommendations. Community education fulfils an important social purpose in the further, adult and community education sector of our education system, contributing to empowerment, collective engagement, equality, social inclusion, activism and realisation of rights.

The full report is available to download from Donegal ETB website at the link below.


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