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Community Education: The non-formal approach to education

A non-formal approach to education and learning based in local community


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in education


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Community education is adult education and learning which takes places outside of the formal education sector. It aims to enhance learning, empower people and contribute to society. Many of the participants in the schemes are early school leavers or those from disadvantaged communities.

Those who take part in community education schemes are involved in all aspects of the course development including: the identification of their needs, the design of the programmes and adapting them on a regular basis.

What makes Community Education different?

It wants to help participants develop, and help the community develop. It also provides extra supports to ensure that adults can successfully use the programme and further their learning.

These supports include:

  • mentoring
  • continuous feedback
  • childcare

Can I take part in Community Education while receiving a social welfare payment?

Under the Back to Education Initiative, it is possible to keep your social welfare payment so long as you still meet the conditions required for the payment.

Jobseeker's Allowance or Benefit

If you are on Jobseeker's Allowance or Benefit, you can look into the Part-Time Education Option if you'd like to take part in a course while keeping your payment.

What's involved in a Community Education course?

Since Community Education is a non-traditional programme, there usually different methods of assessment within each course. These include:

  • assignments 
  • projects
  • learners’ records
  • observations
  • demonstrations of skills
  • exams

Where do I find out more?

For more details about community education courses in your area, you should contact your local Education and Training Board (ETB) or visit the AONTAS website.

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Published October 14th, 2016
Last updated August 14th, 2018
Tags education employment unemployment
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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