New Report Highlights the Importance of Adult & Community Education Programmes to Overcome Educational Disadvantage.

A Respond/SharedInsight report entitled ‘The Provision of Adult and Community Education in the Northside of Dublin City’ was launched by Fr. Peter McVerry on Friday September 12th.

Fr. McVerry introduced the Study by saying: ‘I welcome this revealing report from SharedInsight, and the establishment of Respond’s BA Course in Housing and Community Studies for mature students predominantly living or working in such communities is a whole-hearted response to its findings”.

This is the third important report on educational disadvantage published over the past few weeks.

Firstly, the HEA ‘Study of Progression in Irish Higher Education Institutions’ highlighted very large disparities between Dublin neighbourhoods in terms of young people participating in third level education. For example: 84% in the Sandymount & Ballsbridge areas, falling to 17% in neighbourhoods such as Darndale or Priorswood: confirming how the social class of neighbourhood matters.

Secondly, the ESRI ‘Leaving School in Ireland Study’ unequivocally shows young people who attended socially-mixed schools and middle-class schools were more likely to go on to some form of post-school education and training than those attending working-class schools. In other words, the social class of the school also really matters.

Thirdly, the Respond report, ‘The Provision of Adult and Community Education in the Northside of Dublin City’, now highlights the importance of properly resourced community education programmes if we are to overcome these inequalities. Education levels in Ballymun have improved since 2006, when 28.7% of the population was educated to only primary level or less, and only 7.3% of the community being educated to degree level or higher. This figure has risen to 11.6% in 2011 illustrating the impact of the greater investment in social regeneration and education in the area.

Fr. Sean Healy and Brigid Reynolds Social Justice Ireland, Siobhan O' Sullivan SharedInsight, Fr. Peter McVerry Peter McVerry Trust, Fr. Patrick Cogan, CEO Respond and Nicolas McMurray Shared Insight

The Respond report highlights great vitality and activity in the sector: the great number of courses and students are testament to that. However there needs to be a more systematic approach adopted to tackle educational inequalities to ensure that where you grow up does not simply determine what you do. Report author Dr Siobhan O’Sullivan said: “The report also shows the impact of spending cutbacks and changes in funding to the community education sector that have resulted in reductions in services and uncertainty about the future of certain organisations and the services they provide.’

Commenting on the report Dr Lorcan Byrne of Respond College said: ‘We at Respond seek to complement and support what is already there in the NorthCity, by focusing on the provision of high calibre courses aimed especially at community leaders and trainers. Our new BA programme in Housing & Community Studies is designed to equip those community leaders with the skills necessary to make meaningful interventions, so we can work collectively to overcome these social injustices”.

Fr. Sean Healy and Brigid Reynolds of Social Justice Ireland announced a Bursary scheme for NorthCity organisations, to support up to 10 community workers to pursue their studies on the BA in Housing and Community Studies. At the report launch Fr. Sean Healy commented: “Social Justice Ireland for many years has been advocating greater equality in providing access to higher levels of education: we are delighted to be able to support the Respond B.A Course with this bursary.

Please find a copy of the report findings here