Over one hundred participants attended the annual Community Education Seminar of Donegal ETB’s Further Education and Training (FET) Service in Letterkenny today.
This annual seminar offers those who are involved in the provision of Community Education, particularly those who use grant funding administered by Donegal ETB’s Community Education Support Programme, the opportunity to come together and discuss issues of relevance to them.
The theme for this year’s seminar was Sustainable Development. The keynote speaker, Professor Emeritus and Climate Scientist John Sweeney, noted the strong desire amongst communities, such as those present at the seminar, to engage with issues affecting Donegal at the moment in terms of the effects of climate change. He was also heartened to hear of the concern for our shared space and for our desire to engage with the needs of communities globally as we endeavour to move issues of sustainability to the forefront.
Catherine Friel and Sinéad Campbell, Donegal ETB’s Community Education Facilitators outlined the significant influence of Community Education on sustainable development within communities across the county.
Community Groups at the seminar displayed samples of the work they do in their localities such as community gardening projects, courses aimed at raising awareness around biodiversity and this year saw a large increase in the number of courses delivered on beekeeping, including planting for beekeeping. Community Education has always emphasised the need to re-use and the seminar saw examples of furniture upcycling, patchwork and decoupage. The seminar heard from representatives from Lárionad Achmhainní Nádúrtha and Changemakers who described how Community Education impacts on raising awareness around the need for sustainability in our local communities.
Donegal ETB Chairperson, Geoffrey Browne, remarked upon the strong commitment amongst Community Education Providers to support their communities as they engage with the task of questioning what we need to do to live sustainably and how we propose to deal with the challenges affecting us all.
The seminar also heard from Denise Shannon, Léargas who outlined a European funding opportunity for communities in Ireland.
Martina Needham, Adult Education Officer, Donegal ETB, congratulated the Community Education providers and the participants on their successes in 2019. She also launched a Toolkit for Community Education Providers in response to requests made for information at the 2018 seminar.
The seminar opened and closed to the beautiful sound of the Allsorts Community Singing Group from Pettigo who have received funding from Donegal ETB.
Donegal ETB’s Community Education Support Programme is part of its Further Education and Training (FET) Service. It is a grant-based fund which provides support to groups to deliver a range of community programmes in their own area. The result is high-quality, low-cost courses delivered locally, meeting identified needs of the local community. While the ETB’s Community Education Programme funds accredited courses, such as Local and Global Development, it mostly supports non-accredited courses – anything from beekeeping to cookery classes to crochet. The programme supported over 450 courses in 2018 throughout the county, involving over 4,000 students.
Image credit: Clive Wasson Photography