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What is community education?

Posted by Francis O' Toole on September 2, 2012

Community education is adult education located in the community. It adopts a person centered approach as opposed to traditional education, and takes into account the life experiences of the participants as a starting point. In 2009 almost 60,000 learners participated in DES funded community education and AONTAS estimates a further 30,000 learners participated in programmes organised by independent community groups. The range of programmes includes: FETAC accredited courses mostly level 1 to 5, and non-accredited courses which build confidence to progress and access further learning. Community education in Ireland has developed as a unique educational response to the diverse needs of adult learners, especially those who have gained least from formal education. It has developed mechanisms to help adults facing difficulty accessing and participating in education and has a proven track record in engaging with learners.

Where can I find a community education course?
Throughout the country, there is a wide range of community groups offering courses at various levels. Some community groups also offer courses accredited by various third level institutions. Not all community groups are affiliated to the VECs, so keep an eye on local newspapers, newsletters and community notice boards. For more information on community education in your local VEC contact the local Community Education Facilitator. AONTAS also supports the work of community education groups outside of the VEC structure through the Community Education Network. For more on community education Visit


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