03 Jul 2022

Pictures: Kilkenny and Carlow ETB celebrate learners with special night

Click through to see pictures by Michael Brophy

Kilkenny and Carlow Education and Training Board (KCETB) welcomed learners from across a range of programmes in adult education to the Ormonde Hotel on Tuesday, May 31 to thank them for their engagement and their commitment over the last number of years.

The management and staff came together to plan this event as a return to in-person celebration of the learners achievements, and an opportunity for learners across different programmes to meet.

Learners showcased their work from a variety of art, craft and design classes, in woodcarving, photography, family learning programmes, and community education projects. It was clear to all present that the opportunity to learn, combined with great tuition and a ‘can-do’ attitude can produce amazing results, even in the most challenging of times.

Learners were invited to ‘weave a star’ decoration for the KCETB family tree. This tree was expertly curated by Kilkenny Youthreach learners as part of their involvement in the Amber’s One Million Stars Ireland project earlier this year. It was great to see such a beautiful project extended to include all KCETB learners. 

Gillian, one of the Community Education tutors, spoke to learners and staff about their journey through Kilkenny and Carlow ETB to date. Learners spoke about their experience with the Adult Literacy Service where classes are run for those who are hoping to improve their English language skills, computer skills, photography and family learning programmes such as the ‘Hug-a-Book’ project.

“I stood outside the door there on Patrick Street on the first day, wondering if I’d go in or not, I was so nervous… but by God it was the best decision I ever made to step through that door," said one learner.

"I couldn’t even tell you how much I’ve learned – and from a lad who had never turned on a computer before. All the tutors are great, there was no pressure, and I just learned. It’s amazing.”

Other VTOS Kilkenny learners were delighted to show their ceramic pieces and told me about how their creative side was unleashed by signing up for the programme.

“I used to work in the bank, so I had never had myself down as being a creative person, and here I am now, showing off my handiwork. I’m actually very proud of myself, and thanks to the teachers, they couldn’t have been more helpful,” said another.

Some spoke about the difficulties during Covid restrictions: ”It was tough, going from classroom to everything online-but I learned so much even in that. It was tough for the teachers as well, you know, they seemed to be online the whole time. They were always available to us, to help us, to answer questions, and we got through it.”

Community groups around the county have been funded through the KCETB Community Education Service to run community projects which meet the needs of individuals and their communities. The Cois Nore group showcased their knitting and craft works, while Urlingford Art Group had an exhibition of work developed over the duration of their time together.

UCasadh Project based in Ferrybank presented their traditional gypsy wagon, a highly impressive piece of craftsmanship, of huge cultural significance. It was created by Jamie Stokes and Kalem Madigan.

“All the learners have showed real grit and determination over the last few years. They’ve been fantastic. I’ve no doubt we will see more fabulous work from them in future," said  Siobhan O’Brien, Community Education Facilitator.

When learners made it back to the classrooms after Covid lockdowns, restrictions in place affected the class size and the interaction between learners. 

Many learners have come through programmes, and are going to be working with children in childcare settings, and as healthcare assistants in our hospital and nursing homes, as a direct result of their studies with the likes of BTEI, Back to Education Initiative. 

The staff of Kilkenny Adult Guidance Service were on hand to answer queries from learners about what path they could take next. The service is available to the public for information on available courses and routes of study.

“Returning to work, education or training can be daunting prospect. People can have many questions, not just about the course, but also about funding and progression routes. We can help answer all those questions”, said Joan Howley, Adult Guidance Counsellor with the service.

Kilkenny Adult Guidance Service, Lower New Street, Kilkenny can be contacted on 056-7764448 or for more information.

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