37 Learner Ambassadors gave 91 talks

September 4, 2013

NALA coordinated an EU funded Learner Ambassador Programme in 2014 on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.

Through this Programme, the EU provided funding for students to get training in how to give talks so they could become Learner Ambassadors in their local communities.

By way of explanation, a Learner Ambassador is a student who went back to education as an adult and shares their story about the benefits of returning to education with small groups of people in their community. The aim is to encourage other people who might be interested in returning to education to contact their local ETB or Adult Education Centre.

65 students did follow up regional presentation skills training. In this training we are asked them to inform the centre, where they went back to education, before arranging talks to make sure everyone was kept in the loop.

37 students gave 91 talks. These included talks to Men’s Sheds, parents in primary schools, people attending the mart, jobs clubs and there were four radio interviews.


Margaret Murray

National Adult Literacy Agency

Tel. 01 4127928 Email: mmurray@nala.ie


The European Agenda for Adult Learning (EAAL) in Ireland was managed in 2014 by the Department of Education and Skills. A steering committee was made up of AONTAS,(The National Adult Learning Organisation), ETBI (Education and Training Boards Ireland), NALA (The National Adult Literacy Agency), NCGE (The National Centre for Guidance in Education) and Léargas, (the National Agency in Ireland for the management of European, national and international exchange and cooperation programmes).


Background to the Learner Ambassador Programme

What is a Learner Ambassador?

A Learner Ambassador is a student who shares their story about the benefits of returning to education with people in their community and by doing so often motivates others to take up a learning opportunity.

Why are they so important?

Who better to encourage others to return to education than those who faced the same challenges and fears themselves. They know the barriers that exist for people but can explain through first-hand experience the enormous gains that can be made to both their confidence and basic skills.

As you know, sometimes people are not able to see the benefits to returning to learning. They had a negative experience of school in the past and associate returning to learning with that experience. There is also a stigma attached to low literacy and basic skills. Often people feel too embarrassed to return to learning and go to great extremes to hide their difficulties from their friends and family. However, this does not have to be the case. Adult education is a very different experience to school. Adult learning is all about addressing the needs of the learner, working at a pace that suits them and according to their needs and interests.

Learners are vital in bringing to life the benefits of returning to education and by becoming Ambassadors they have unique ability to motivate others, in a similar position, to do the same.


Other parts of this EU funded programme in 2014

The European Agenda for Adult Learning (2012 – 2014) encouraged participating countries to promote adult learning, in particular offering lower qualified adults a ‘second chance’ to go ‘one step up’ in their qualification level.  In Ireland in 2014, the European Agenda for Adult Learning was coordinated by the Department of Education and Skills. Three projects hoped to increase awareness of adult learning at both national and local levels. These projects were:

1. One Step Up – A new website www.onestepup.ie – coordinated by AONTAS

2. Learner Ambassadors project – coordinated by NALA

3. Encourage a Learner – coordinated by ETBI

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