On Day Four of the AONTAS Adult Learners' Festival we visited the Warrenmount Community Education Centre and Exchange House Ireland, National Travellers Centre. In the afternoon we were introduced to AONTAS’ work in the field of promotion with special emphasis on learners’ engagement. Here are our impressions (following the initial explanation of our attempts and impressions of Day One, Day Two and Day Three:
One of our challenges is how to attract the national media to report about adult learning. Discussing this issue with the AONTAS communication officer, Katie O'Rourke, we found out that they are facing the similar problem. The national media is simply not interested in adult education unless you can offer them a good story based on an individual's experience in connection to a certain popular activity in public. Inviting the celebrity has of course its benefits. And here we can step in with our award winners and their life stories. We are constantly aware of how precious they are and we intend to continue to put our efforts in presenting them nationwide and abroad.
Communications Officer, Promotion Officer, Information Officer, Advocacy Officer … I fully realized how many ‘hats’ me and my team are wearing only when I listened to Karen and Katie and the day before to Niamh and Brid of AONTAS. On the one hand very specialized approaches are called for. On the other hand, strong interactions and synergy are needed. A very systematic, highly skilled approach, but at the same time a dynamic and flexible one - then the impact is the best and far-reaching. Bravo, AONTAS team, you have it all!
In a way I felt overloaded at the end of the day by all the input, because there were so many aspects and some approaches are so different from what we are doing and what we can do at home. But underneath this feeling there is a flicker of light – reminding me that it is time for a thorough change. Then, the many little hints but especially all the wisdom that we were able to collect from our Irish friends and counterparts will come in very handy.
Another day in Ireland brought some more interesting themes on adult education. The presentation about the Travellers left me speechless, which, believe me, doesn’t happen often. Even though I was aware of their existence, the thorough presentation about them, their life and the problems they encounter are just obnoxious. I can’t find a politically correct way to express my opinion. The discussion on learners, their voice, putting forward their astonishing achievements is so closely related to my work, that I could talk with Irish colleagues for hours, days. We will continue online though…