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A study of the effectiveness of adult education in Kildare VEC

Dublin City University. School of Education Studies
Publication Date
  • Education
  • Adult Education
  • Effectiveness
  • Economics
  • Education


The importance of adult and further education is stressed by national, European and international policy documents as being critical to economic, social and cultural initiatives, capable of benefiting all sectors of society. In Ireland, the current economic recession, financial crisis, increased unemployment and enforced emigration has created an urgent need to re-shape the adult education provision to meet the educational, social and skill needs of society with particular emphasis on the workforce and the unemployed. This thesis sets out to evaluate the effectiveness of County Kildare VEC adult education service. It strives to discover if Kildare VEC adult education service is adequately and strategically equipped to meet the needs of students in the future. This thesis investigates if appropriate courses and programmes are available to achieve the most effective outcomes for students within the current environment. The study describes the current educational, social and economic context in which Kildare VEC provides a range of services. It involves reviewing the relevant literature on adult education and lifelong learning in the context of societal and economic change. The methodology involved qualitative interviews with sixty-five individuals involved in VEC adult education. In addition, a study visit to Norway was completed to survey their adult education policies and practices. The study findings will be used to augment the research conducted in Ireland. Semi-structured interviews were organised with Kildare VEC students, tutors, middle and senior managers and CEOs from external VEC which provide rich data describing the accomplishments and the challenges facing Kildare VEC adult education service. Kildare VEC was found to be responding to particular educational needs through its programme provision. However, deficits were highlighted in terms of the absence of an overall vision for adult education, continued professional development for staff and linkages with employment providers. The need for further research and analysis is also highlighted which is required to inform a more appropriate educational response to the authentic needs of students in the future. The research provides practitioners, stake-holders, policy makers and the implementers of adult education practice with interesting insights and eleven recommendations, that if implemented will improve the provision by Kildare VEC as well as other VECs in Ireland. Finally, the outcomes of the research will specifically benefit Kildare VEC in re-structuring and creating an improved adult education and training provision. The recommended changes will result in a more comprehensive response to the needs of adult students facing rapid and transformational change in so many areas life and work.

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