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EPALE - Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe


Visiting Ireland – Day One

by Zvonka PANGERC ...
Language: EN

Day One of the AONTAS Adult Learners' Festival: today we participated in the Star Awards ceremony where acknowledgments are given away for innovative adult learning initiatives. Here are our impressions following the initial explanation of our attempts:



It's nice to see there are other organizations in other countries that encourage and appreciate different initiatives and individuals who are actively involved in adult learning.  During the today’s event we had a chance to hear their fascinating and inspirational stories. We all celebrate their efforts, success and knowledge on a national level. Kevin Hanley, an adult learner from the National learning network, in his keynote speech at the ceremony inspired us with his life story and proved once again that the only barriers are the ones in our minds – as an autistic he actively participated in adult education and improved his life and lives of many others. He’s just one of the many many great examples of good practice who need to be recognized. Therefore we all tend to raise awareness about importance of adult education.

Simona and Neja


Gina Ebner, Secretary-General of the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) gave one of the introductory speeches calling attention to the fact that the AONTAS’ Star Awards ceremony was the launch event of the all-European campaign 2017: The Year of Adult Learning in Europe. She explained the reasons behind the slogan The Power and Joy of Learning. They have certainly proven to be true for the 22 shortlisted nominees and especially for the ones who received their Star Awards today. From them we could hear of transformation, passion, greater confidence and sense of purpose, recognition, inclusion, innovation, thinking and acting outside-the-box, better social skills, celebration, wellbeing, positive impact on families and friends … and yes, joy!

What a great way to start the 300-event learning festival in Ireland! Knowing how much energy and enthusiasm of AONTAS and their partners in making it work has been involved in its preparation, I wish them every success!

Slovenia will join EAEA’s initiative as well. We will celebrate it throughout our Lifelong Learning Week in May and June.



Although problems in the lifelong learning field vary from country to country, we have the common goal and our mission is the same: better life and joy of living. With learning festivals all around Europe organizers should learn from each other. It was a great opportunity not to sit in the backstage this time (at Slovenian openings it is my task to cover the technical part of the event) and see how it is done in Ireland. The word is especially given to learners and their life paths. The ceremony program flows spontaneously and interaction between speakers and participants kept us even more focused.



Being a part of the AONTAS Star Awards ceremony was a fantastic experience. Listening to learners’ stories makes me realize over and over again how adult education and lifelong learning can influence one’s life in a positive way.

We are keen on following the AONTAS activities also on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The ceremony was broadcast live on Facebook. Liking, sharing and commenting on the event made us feel really connected with the followers within the learning community.



When working on something for a longer period of time, your vision becomes narrower, concentrating on ever existing details that could have been better, on gaps that could have run smoother. It is hard to imagine a totally different concept. Irish Star Awards, comparing to Slovenian Grand opening of Lifelong Learning Week and announcing of our award winners, seem to be more like a gathering of a wider family, where the most modest members are the first to have their say, and even a Slovenian horde feels embraced, included and welcomed. But it is obvious, and it was confirmed once again, that the main organ, when working with people, is the heart.



Read more in the Slovenian blog.

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  • Vilija Lukošūnienė's picture

    Thank you for sharing your reflections of the AONTAS STAR awards. We are pleased this event in Ireland. It is nice that the EAEA  initiative of the Year of Adult Learning integrates many adult educators  from Europe to work and celebrate together. Lithuania will join EAEA’s initiative 2017: The Year of adult Learning in Europe as well. The opening event of the Year will take place on 27 April, 2017. In our Week of Adult Learning in November we will celebrate The Power and Joy of Learning also.

  • Andreas Koreimann's picture

    Thank you for your informations and impressions. It is a good example how to share your experiences with others here on EPALE. Great job and keep on doing it!

  • Niamh O'Reilly's picture

    Thank you for sharing your reflections of the AONTAS STAR awards, we appreciate your comments and have really enjoyed and benefitted from your visit. Just two days to go, I hope you will continue to enjoy and appropriately ending on the EU policy seminar! 

  • Simona Kavčič's picture

    Thank you for sharing experience, knowledge, and expertise with us. And it was great to meet all those wonderful people! We really enjoyed our visit!