Audrey Kongolo, UCD, Elaine Harrington, NCAD, Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell-O’Connor TD, Ruairí Sean Myler, TCD, Sadaka Ozifa Ali, Marino Institute, Reuben Noyes, IADT
Minister of state of Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, today launched College Awareness Week 2018 with the help of Mick Bohan, Manager of Dublin Ladies All-Ireland winning team at Croke Park’s spectacular Skyline overlooking the entire city, and encouraged schools, business and education groups in Longford to get involved.
Also at the launch were Clive Byrne (Director, National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals), Kathleen O’Toole-Brennan (CAW Campaign Founder, Trinity College Dublin), Caitríona Ryan, (Head of Access Policy, HEA) and Robert Willis and Ron Janish from the campaign’s main corporate sponsor, Perrigo.
College Awareness Week, now in its fifth year, will run from 19 to 24 November and promotes the benefits of further and higher education. The campaign places particular emphasis on encouraging students of all ages, and social and economic backgrounds to consider their options and to become ‘college-ready’.
Mick Bohan, a teacher in St. Mark’s Community School, and successive winning All-Ireland Dublin Ladies manager, said at the launch “As a teacher in a DEIS school I see the positive consequences education can have on my pupils every single day. It is the academic learning and practical changes I see in their lives that reaffirms my belief that education doesn’t stop at secondary school, it needs to continue into third level and for the rest of our lives.
Both in teaching and sport our job is to facilitate people growing and reaching their potential. Ultimately what I do, and what College Awareness week is trying to accomplish, is to lay the foundations to realistic and achievable prospects for those in communities from often disadvantaged areas or circumstances.”
This year sees the establishment and launch of the Community Mentoring Programme, a collaboration between IADT, Marino Institute of Education, NCAD, TCD and UCD and funded by the HEA Programme for Access to Higher Education (PATH). 200 Community Mentors are currently being recruited and will be provided with the necessary resources and skills during a day-long training Mentor Summit in Trinity College Dublin later this month.
These mentors, who will have access to an online toolkit, will become an incredibly valuable community resource, who will share information and advice about their own college experience, as a way to help prospective students build their awareness of college courses, how to apply, and the benefits of a college education.
These mentors will be placed across DEIS schools, FET and adult and community education centres across Dublin city, where they will educate and motivate under-represented groups, in third level education such as first-time mature students, students with a disability, students from the Irish travelling community, lone parents and socio-economically under-represented students.
Clive Byrne, Director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals said;
“Education is for everyone, and it is for a lifetime. The benefits of education cannot be overstated. The positive effects of education is not limited to the individual, buts spreads widely among their families communities, society, and most importantly, is passed on through generations.
The goal of College Awareness Week is to raise awareness of the value of education among the communities that can benefit from it the most, with specific encouragement of participation among those groups who are underrepresented in education. Our goal is to see the ripple effects of education spread through the country.”
Nikki Gallagher, Director of Communications & Secretariat in SOLAS stated;
“It is so important that people are aware of all career paths available and that they choose the path best suited to them. Further education and training offers fantastic career paths that many may not be aware of. We are delighted to be involved in College Awareness Week and show people all further education and training has to offer. SOLAS is delighted to be an official sponsor of College Awareness Week and we look forward to working with the local Education and Training Boards in organising events around the country.”
CAW is a multi-organisational and collaborative campaign which invites communities across Ireland to host events in schools, afterschool programmes, Colleges of Further and Higher education, libraries and businesses, among others. These community events aim to raise awareness of the opportunities available and to showcase local personalities who have benefitted from further education.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor said, “College Awareness Week is a highlight in my diary every year and I am delighted to be part of the launch event again this year. Increasing participation in higher and further education by those from socially disadvantaged communities is a key part of my remit as Minister.
It is vital that as a society, that everyone involved in education, from Universities to community groups, reaches out to all who may be considering their future education and arms them with the information, encouraging them to explore their options. I hope that by me championing the initiative and the organisers, that I am encouraging as many people as possible to get involved in College Awareness Week. I wish to also commend the organisers in establishing the Community Mentor Programme this year.”
Since its inception in 2014, College Awareness Week has been a runaway success. Last year over 1,200 events took place across Ireland, and this year the organisers expect a similar number of events this year.
Caitríona Ryan, Head of Access Policy in the Higher Education Authority stated, “The Higher Education Authority is delighted to support College Awareness Week again in 2018. Now in its fifth year, College Awareness Week has become embedded in the academic year and plays an important role in showcasing the range of exciting education opportunities available to all of our school leavers. The emphasis on helping students navigate options and develop post-school plans through mentoring and community supports is particularly welcome. I encourage everyone to participate in as many CAW activities as possible, to have fun and to enjoy exploring the diversity of possibilities available in college for all”.