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Downtown Centre wins Aontas Award


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Orla Barry, Newstalk Presenter, Rhona Sherry, Director of the Downtown Centre, Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science, Sean Haughey T.D., Patricia-Anne Moore, Downtown Centre, Claire Dowling, Downtown Centre.

Downtown Centre wins Aontas Award

The Downtown Centre, in Limerick City has received the Local Munster Award at the STAR Awards Ceremony for Adult Learning Projects in Dublin. The STAR (Showcasing Teamwork, Awarding Recognition) Awards are presented by AONTAS, the National Adult Learning Organisation, to outstanding, learner-centred adult education projects that demonstrate high levels of collaboration amongst participant groups and are about recognising and celebrating the invaluable collaborative work undertaken by adult learning providers in our communities.

Director of the Downtown Centre, Rhona Sherry said; "Our sincere thanks and recognition to everyone who has supported, worked or collaborated with the Downtown Centre over the past few years in the valuable work of supporting adult learners to achieve their third-level learning goals. The Downtown Centre is dedicating its STAR Award to the memory of Michael Scanlon (1958-2010), student on the Certificate in General Studies, who was a dedicated and enthusiastic learner, and who was an inspiration to students and staff alike. He truly was a rising star.

The Downtown Centre is a collaborative initiative of the University of Limerick, the Limerick Institute of Technology, Mary Immaculate College and the Institute of Technology Tralee.  The centre is based on Denmark Street in Limerick City and offers advice and information to adults who want to return to third level education. It also works with local organisations and agencies to support returning adult learners, including the Limerick City Adult Education Service and the Limerick City Adult Guidance Partnership, as well as a number of community organisations. 

Minister for Lifelong Learning, Sean Haughey TD, who officially opened the Festival, said 'In relation to the real stars today - you, the learners - I want to heartily congratulate each and every one of you on your significant achievement. You should feel very proud of your success.'

Orla Barry, Newstalk presenter, was the guest speaker at the event.  The popular broadcaster is herself a 'lifelong learner', regularly signing up for courses, and is currently a Masters student at UCD. 

The theme of the festival is 'Better Together' - promoting greater collaboration in the adult education sector, which results in more accurate information on eligibility for those seeking to enrol in courses, as well as clearer progression options for those taking part in education and training.  'Collaboration is clearly the way to go, said Ms Brady.  Just last week we saw UL and NUI Galway come together in a strategic alliance in order to 'work smarter.'  Collaboration will yield benefits to the adult education sector.  The adult and community education service has to date developed in a disparate and ad hoc way. Many adult education programmes have developed separately and work independently of each other.' 

'This is a very appropriate theme and one which very much supports and compliments my own view as Minister for Lifelong Learning - that working in partnership generates infinitely better outcomes,' continued the Minister.  'By working together, as administrators, providers and indeed, as participants, there is no limit to what we can achieve.'

Speaking at the ceremony, Berni Brady, Director of AONTAS said, 'Latest unemployment figures (January 2010) stand at 12.7%.  Retraining and upskilling opportunities are the most effective response in countering unemployment, by preparing people for new employment opportunities when they arise and assisting people to cope with the loss of confidence that often accompanies redundancy and unemployment.'

For further information about the Downtown Centre go to www.downtowncentre.ie


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