AONTAS, the National Adult Learning Organisation, celebrated 10 years promoting and celebrating adult and community education this year. Adult learners’ Festival took place February 22nd – 26th in Adult Education Centres across the country. Portlaoise Further Education Centre held a number of events throughout the week to promote the festival,most notably awards ceremonies on Tuesday and Wednesday for students receiving QQI levels 2-4. On Tuesday morning the centre was busy presenting awards at QQI level 2-4 for students who attended day time courses throughout 2015 in Portlaoise Further Education Centre and also outreach centres in Abbeyleix and Stradbally. Students received certificates in Maths, Communications, Managing Personal Finances and Personal Effectiveness. There were also a number of IT awards; QQI level 2 Introduction to IT, QQI level 3 Digital Media, Word-processing and Internet Skills. A number of people from other countries also received QQI certificates in English as a Second Language. After the morning ceremony light refreshments were given in the canteen which was bustling with chat and laughter. On Tuesday evening there was a small awards ceremony for those who attended Skills for Work evening programmes. Students received QQI level 3 certificates in Internet Skills and Spreadsheets.
On Wednesday morning there was the presentation of Employment Skills level 4 programme. Carmel Hoolan, Guidance Counsellor and co-ordinator of the Employment Skills level 4 praised all the students on their achievements. Some students spoke about the course and the invaluable work experience module they did where they got hands-on practical experience.
Over the two days students spoke about the benefits of returning to education and getting the chance to upskill. Some students had left school before Inter Certificate and were delighted to get the opportunity to do a course. Others have their Leaving Certificate but needed to brush up on their skills. People spoke about the small class sizes and how friendly and supportive the tutors are which made learning easy. Kathleen Dunne, Adult Literacy Organiser, praised all the students for their commitment throughout the year and credits the dedicated team in Portlaoise Further Education who work hard to ensure learners are looked after, ‘our tutors advertise the Further Education Centre, they are the friendly faces of the service and ensure everyone is looked after’.