On Thursday 24th November 2022, Minister Simon Harris launched the Research Report on Inclusion of Adult Literacy Support in Further Education and Training.
Adult Literacy Organisers (ALOs) take rightful pride in the work they do. They manage local adult literacy services across the country. They liaise with other statutory bodies, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), community groups and with individual people who come to them looking to improve their literacy, numeracy and/or digital literacy. ALOs [working in Education and Training Boards (ETBs) all over Ireland] offer literacy classes in a wide variety of settings including, family resource centres, community hubs, libraries, addiction rehabilitation centres, homeless support services, disability services, Health Service Executive (HSE) buildings, Tusla, Traveller advocacy centres and in their own ETB centres. In all of the work that they do, they hold central the learners’ needs, within competing policy and institutional demands.
In addition, they work with colleagues across Further Education and Training (FET) contexts to support learners on FET programmes including Post-Leaving Cert (PLC) programmes, apprenticeship courses, Back to Education Initiative (BTEI), English for Speakers of Other Languages courses (ESOL), and Vocation Training Opportunities Schemes (VTOS). That collaborative, supportive work across FET, currently not universally understood, is the subject of this research.
In June 2021, the Adult Literacy Organisers’ Association (ALOA) commissioned Dr Bernie Grummell of Maynooth University to conduct the research. We created a research advisory team comprising four ALOs and two tutors representing all six ALOA regions. It was important to ALOA that there should be a tutor perspective advising the research, as they do much of the frontline work with learners. In the report, we hear the experiences, frustrations and recommendations of our colleagues across FET at various levels of management, from ALOs to FET Directors as well as tutors, teachers and instructors. The Adult Education Guidance Service is also represented. We hope that these voices will help us to better understand the work that we do. All of our FET colleagues who gave of their time did so in the first term of the academic year, when that particular commodity is in short supply. For that we are profoundly grateful.
This report is the first nationwide study of the supports offered by Adult Literacy Services to learners and colleagues in other areas of FET provision. It considers that support work in its policy and legislative contexts, and interacts extensively with the both national and international scholarship in the field. ALOA hopes that this report and its recommendations will come to represent the beginning of an important conversation among FET staff about the existing valuable collaborations we have. We also hope that this research will enable us to improve upon our endeavours to afford FET learners the best teaching and learning experience we can offer, by ensuring that unmet literacy needs are met at all stages of learning.
Siobhán Condron (Chair of ALOA’s research advisory committee)
You can read the full report here: http://www.aloa.ie/wp-content/uploads…