Lifelong learning is crucial to the quality of an individual’s life. It boosts self-esteem, increases employability, helps individuals meet new people from a range of backgrounds and transcend social boundaries, all while enriching local communities. That’s why Dublin has joined the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC) and formally became a Learning City in 2019.

The initiative seeks to promote the various ways people can learn something new, both inside and outside the classroom, through traditional and non-traditional methods. It aims to ensure that education and learning are accessible and free for all, regardless of age or cultural background. We spoke to learners from different backgrounds to find out what education means to them.

Kerri Rowen
Kerri is 33 years old and is a single parent, currently in her 4th year of the undergraduate medicine program. She applied as a mature student with the UCD PATH Initiative and with assistance from the UCD 1916-Bursary. She wants to encourage others who may not have considered a career in medicine before to follow their dreams too. “I didn’t focus too heavily on the value of education in my youth, so I didn’t have a great Leaving Certificate. With life experience on my side, I’ve made a comeback and am thriving in my course and, with a lot of careful time management, doing well in my studies. My aim for the future is to use my differences to help me become a doctor who is compassionate and empathetic towards all patients from all walks of life.”

Martin Doolan
Martin is a mature student in his third year of studying social studies at Trinity College Dublin. He entered TCD through the University Access Course in Pearse College and is now fulfilling his lifelong dream of completing a third-level degree. Martin is also Chairperson of the TCD Mature Student Society. He has a defined career plan to become a Social Worker to use his experience to help people through their challenges.

“Life is learning; since going back to education, my life has been transformed, with the friends I have made and the learning experiences I’ve had. I am not only telling my children about the value of education – I’m showing them.”

Paula Crilly
After a long career in Financial Services as a trainer, Paula decided to take a significant career change and follow her heart into the world of horticulture. As a daunted mature student, she engaged with Dundrum College of Further Education, who put her at ease, were encouraging and answered all her questions.

“I have long had an interest and passion for horticulture, but was not prepared for the wealth and range of learning I have experienced in the last year, completing the Level 5 Garden and Landscape Design. Each subject was taught with a depth of industry knowledge and instilled in me a curiosity and excitement in areas I didn’t even know existed! The blended approach allowed flexibility in balancing the learning with my home life, and I felt supported each step of the way. I have thoroughly enjoyed the course, I have discovered skills I had forgotten I had, and learned so many new ones, I’m looking forward to the future working in an area I love and furthering my knowledge with more study.”

Dublin has enormous potential to stimulate and support learning among its citizens to help tackle existing issues, strengthen social cohesion and transform the communities prospects for the better. In collaboration with Dublin City Council, Educational Training Boards and other community stakeholders, the Dublin Learning City initiative aims to deliver and co-ordinate Dublin’s programmes, including the Dublin City Learning Festival.

The Dublin Learning City Festival will run virtually from the 22nd to 24th March 2021 to celebrate and promote learning for all through fun and creative events. The festival is free and will focus on new and existing community-based initiatives to promote learning in Dublin city and the greater Dublin area. Dublin Learning City has invited individuals, organisations and companies from all over Dublin to participate in this year’s festival with all types of events, including virtual workshops, webinars, tutorials, podcasts and much more!

For more information on the Dublin Learning City Festival, visit: www.dublinlearningcity.ie

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