International and Comparative Perspectives
The professionalisation of adult education in Ireland. An exploration of the current discourse, debate and policy developments
← 24 | 25 → Helen Murphy
Adult and continuing education has been part of the education discourse in Ireland for many years, however the Irish Government White Paper “Learning for Life” (Department of Education and Science 2000) was the first significant policy paper setting out national structures, funding streams and regulations for adult education in Ireland. The paper recommended initiatives designed to professionalise the workforce including initial and continuing professional development, nationally recognised posts and structured career paths for adult educators. While there has been significant development in adult and continuing education between 2000 and 2014, including increased funding, a widening of access for adults into further and higher education and a recognition of the unique and diverse needs of the adult learner, the development of adult education as a profession has been slow to materialise. The nature of adult education in Ireland continues to be defined by part time and casual work with little security of tenure, limited opportunities for professional development and a lack of structured career paths for adult educators. Recent policy developments, a new national strategy for further education and training, new regulations introduced by the Department of Education and Skills and the Teaching Council of Ireland coupled with significant structural change in the sector have reignited the debate on professionalisation. The current discussion about professionalisation involves regulatory requirements for qualifications, increased centralised control, national standards and performance indicators for stakeholders. The paper reviews the historical development of adult education in Ireland, explores the policy context...
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