FET Learners have their Voices Heard at AONTAS Donegal Regional Forum

Learners from Donegal Education and Training Board (ETB) convened at the regional meeting of the National Further Education and Training (FET) Learner Forum which took place in Radisson Blu Hotel, Letterkenny today, Monday 23 April.

Ireland is leading the way in making a commitment to learner representation with the establishment of a national Forum. As a learner-centred form of provision, SOLAS is striving to make Further Education and Training (FET) a first choice for prospective learners, as a means to gain qualifications and secure employment. This Forum acts as a way for learners to directly influence FET provision, their suggestions for improvement will be sought and a clear outline of recommendations communicated to policy makers.

The Forum was organised by AONTAS, the National Adult Learning Organisation, and is one of a series of regional meetings taking place across the county this year. Over 80 learners from Donegal registered for the event.

Speaking about today’s Forum, Niamh O’Reilly, CEO of AONTAS, said: ‘Today’s Forum provides FET learners from Donegal with the opportunity to have their voices heard, and to influence policy at regional and national level. AONTAS believes that learners are experts of their own learning and we look forward to using the deliberations from today’s Forum in supporting SOLAS and ETBs in creating a world-class FET system that is learner-centred.’

‘The establishment of the Forum recognised the importance that must be placed on those at the centre of adult education – the learners themselves, and we look forwarding to consulting with them today.’

Also speaking at today’s Forum Cróna Gallagher, Director of Further Education and Training in Donegal ETB said: ‘We are delighted to welcome adult learners who are participating in ETB adult and further education and training programmes across Donegal to the Forum today. It is a great opportunity for the learners to meet each other and network and also to let the ETB know how we can improve our service to them. We are embarking on a three year strategic planning process with SOLAS/ Department of Education & Skills and this is an excellent chance for learners to tell us what courses they would like to see happening and also what supports they need to help them progress in their learning.’

The learners who attended were nominated to join the Forum by Donegal ETB and included representatives from community education, Youthreach, Learning for Living, VTOS, BTEI and training programmes.

If you are thinking of going back to education check out Donegal ETB’s course finder on https://www.donegaletb.ie/further-education-training/course-finder/.

Martina Needham, Donegal ETB Adult Education Officer (AEO) and Leah Dowdall, Aontas Learner Advocacy Officer.