Twenty learners from An Cosán community education centre in Jobstown, Tallaght, graduated with BA degrees at the Institute of Technology Carlow’s recent Lifelong Learning Conferring Ceremony. Eleven graduated with a BA in Applied Addiction Studies and Community Development and nine with a BA in Leadership and Community Development. Both courses are delivered by An Cosán but are accredited by the Institute of Technology (IT) Carlow. The graduates were joined in Carlow by proud family members and friends as well as members of An Cosán staff to celebrate their achievements. Seven of the graduates were from Dublin with the remainder coming from Wexford, Waterford, Meath, Roscommon and Kerry. An Cosán’s higher education courses run online, which means they can be undertaken from anywhere in the country.
An Cosán, which is Ireland’ largest community education provider, seeks to empower through education, working primarily with women who left school early. It offers face-to-face classes in Access and Further Education in its Jobstown centre and its holistic approach includes wraparound supports for learners, including high quality Early Years’ education, financial support, IT support, parenting support, one-to-one mentoring and counselling. An Cosán learners include adults returning to education, people experiencing poverty and social exclusion, migrants and people living in direct provision.
Adelaide Nic Chárthaigh, An Cosán’s Adult Community Education Manager, expressed her gratitude to IT Carlow for their ongoing support of An Cosán and their dedication towards their learners. “This dream that has been realised for our 20 graduates today would not have been possible without IT Carlow’s ongoing collaborative partnership with An Cosán,” she said. “Their commitment to make higher education available right across Ireland to communities who might not otherwise have access to it aligns with our own vision.”
Congratulating the graduates, Ms Nic Chárthaigh said, “The achievements we’re celebrating today cannot be taken lightly. The challenges and obstacles you have overcome to get here are unprecedented, making your educational journey quite unique. Not only have you had to navigate your way through your course work, assignments and assessments while juggling your home lives, but you have also navigated your way through a global pandemic, and all that has entailed.
“We have delighted in seeing each of you overcome the challenges of the past few years, grow in confidence and form great bonds with each other and, ultimately, to achieve your BA dream. We are incredibly proud of your hard work, determination and resilience. We know each of you will go on to have a brighter future, as a result, and will have a positive impact on your families and your communities too. We wish you the best of luck and will follow your future careers with great interest.”
Dr Joseph Collins, Head of Faculty, Lifelong Learning at IT Carlow, said, “The Institute of Technology Carlow is proud to validate the work of An Cosán because together we share a set of values that enables us to build a society which is, at its core, both ethical and inclusive. An Cosán continues to help many people to find their way out of the darkness of educational disadvantage and into a future bright with hope and possibility. Congratulations and well done to the wonderful graduates of Leadership and Community Development and Applied Addiction Studies and Community Development who from here will craft a society defined by inclusion and justice.”
Vickey Foran from East Wall, who graduated with a BA in Applied Addiction Studies and Community Development, said, “Being a single mother of four and coming from a family of early school leavers, I was the first member of my family to commence college. I enjoyed completing my degree, making new friends and learning from others. Having this degree will allow me to further pursue my career in addiction. I would highly recommend An Cosán; I found them very understanding and they were a great help to me.”
Mark Kavanagh from Ballyfermot, who also graduated with a BA in Applied Addiction Studies and Community Development, said, “Even though we all came from different walks of life, it didn’t matter, and you could feel that in the class. We were all there for each other, especially in the group assignments. I think online schooling is the way forward, especially for professionals and mature students. It was my best experience of online education and enabled me to complete my journey to my degree.”