More than 30 adult learners from An Cosán, Ireland’s largest community education provider, received awards during an award ceremony at the Russell Centre in Tallaght on Saturday 24th September 2022. Ten learners received a Level 6 Certificate in Personal and Professional Development accredited by South East Technological University (SETU), while the remainder received either a QQI Level 5 or 6 Early Childhood Care and Education award, or a QQI Level 5 award in Business Administration with Digital Skills. The awardees were joined by proud family members and friends as well as members of An Cosán staff to celebrate their achievements. The majority of awardees were from Dublin, with several from other counties, including Kildare, Wicklow and Wexford. An Cosán’s Higher Education courses run primarily online, which means they can be undertaken from anywhere in the country.
Congratulating the awardees, An Cosán Deputy CEO Anne Genockey, said, “The achievements that we celebrate today cannot be taken lightly. The challenges and obstacles you, the learners, have had to overcome to get here are historic and unprecedented. You’re unique and worthy awardees on completion of a journey that was at times very difficult to travel. Not only did you have to navigate through course work, assignments and assessments while juggling home lives, but you also had to navigate your way through a global pandemic and all that entailed.”
Ms Genockey said An Cosán was proud of all the awardees’ achievements, including the “pioneering group” of Higher Education learners: the first class to complete An Cosán’s new Certificate in Personal and Professional Development, which was the fruit of a sustained, creative collaboration with SETU in the context of enhancing responsiveness to the future world of work and lifelong learning.
“Beginning in November 2020, this third-level award was delivered through a mix of face-to-face workshops and online classes,” she said. “Participants developed new knowledge and transversal skills concerning adult learning, group work, communications, critical and ethical thinking, well-being, everyday maths, IT applications, and research methods. An Cosán partnered with SETU’s Department of Lifelong Learning on the ‘Higher Education Pathway for Non-Traditional Learners’ project. In doing so, we received and gratefully acknowledge the support of the Higher Education Authority.”
Ms Genockey said An Cosán staff were all incredibly proud of the awardees for the resilience and determination they displayed as they persevered on the path of education. “The diversity of the learning you have carried out over the past two years is as varied as your backgrounds, experiences, and goals,” she said. “For those awardees of the Certificate in Personal and Professional Development, with your boosted confidence, new knowledge and learning tools, may you embrace lifelong learning and advance further into Higher Education.
“Some of you have gained major awards in Early Childhood Education and plan to go out there educating, inspiring and empowering little ones,” she continued. “Those of you who gained your major awards in Business Administration with Digital Skills have bright futures ahead providing the skills that keep the wheels turning in projects, schools and industries throughout the community, and the country. We are grateful to JP Morgan and Rethink Ireland, who each funded a Business Administration with Digital Skills cohort.”
Dolores O’Sullivan, who received her Level 6 Award in Early Childhood Care and Education, shared during the awards ceremony her story of transformation through education. “An Cosán has had an enormous impact on my life,” she said. “It gave me belief in myself that I could go back to study and get a qualification. The two years I spent at An Cosán have been more beneficial, rewarding and enjoyable for me than the 14 years I spent in mainstream education.”
Dolores, who is currently pursuing a BA in Early Childhood Care and Development at the Technological University Shannon, Limerick, said, “An Cosán offered me a pathway back to education in a safe and welcoming environment. An Cosán is a special place with very special people who are making a significant impact on people’s lives in the most positive and nurturing way.”
An Cosán, which was set up 36 years ago to provide education to adults in West Tallaght, seeks to empower through education, working primarily with women who left school early, people experiencing poverty and social exclusion, migrants and people living in direct provision. It offers face-to-face classes in Access and Further Education in its Jobstown centre as well as Higher Education programmes delivered primarily online. It boasts a holistic approach that includes wraparound supports for learners, including high quality Early Years’ education, financial support, IT support and digital skills, parenting support, and one-to-one tutoring, mentoring and counselling.
To find out more about An Cosán, see https://www.ancosan.ie/.
Pics: Robbie Reynolds