11 November 2021
By Mary Bermingham
Cork ETB’s Youthreach and Adult Literacy learners meet Minister Harris to discuss programme experiences
The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, T.D., met with a group of learners from Cork Education and Training Board’s (Cork ETB) Youthreach and Adult Literary services during a recent visit to Cork.
Minister Harris was given an insight into the ongoing work and support services provided by Youthreach and Adult Literacy programmes in local communities across Cork city and county as he was introduced to learners and participants.
The Minister met with participants who have been assisted by Adult Literacy programmes to re-engage with society and those who have overcome homelessness through a partnership between Cork Education and Training Board and several homeless support services. He also spoke with participants on Cork Education and Training Board’s “Workwise Skills” program, which is designed to help those recovering from addiction to re-engage with society.
Asylum seekers present spoke at length to the Minister about their experiences with Cork Education and Training Board’s ‘Growing Conversations’ initiative, which aims to help with their integration into Irish society and local communities.
Teachers and learners spoke with him about a variety of literacy programmes offered by Cork Education and Training Board, all of which are based on the four pillars established in the National Adult Literacy for Life (ALL) strategy, which includes the following strands:
During the visit, Youthreach students presented Minister Harris with a copy of their publication “This is Me,” – an anthology of poetry and writings they created during lockdown.
In addition, he received two pieces of art which were painted by Felix Barnett and Elton Sibanda, both former Youthreach Macroom students who are currently furthering their studies at St. John’s Central College, one of Cork ETB’s Further Education colleges.
Minister Harris said: “I am always inspired by the drive and determination of both learners and staff who work in Adult Education and Youthreach.
“At Cork ETB I was thrilled to hear their incredible stories of overcoming adversity and barriers, and how they displayed unrivalled determination to meet their undoubted potential.
“Adult literacy and Youthreach are two initiatives that are close to my heart, and giving them the funding and facilities they need are key pillars of my Department’s mission.
“I want to thank everyone who I met at the Cork ETB for sharing their stories with me, and I want them to know that they will always have the unerring support of both me and my Department.”
Chief Executive of Cork Education and Training Board, Denis Leamy outlined plans to further develop and enhance existing Further Education and Training, Youthreach and Adult Literacy programmes in line with the sector’s national strategy.
Mr. Leamy said he welcomed the opportunity for the Minister to meet with the participants from their many Youthreach and Adult Literacy programmes and listen to how the programmes has positively impacted their lives.
He added: “We are incredibly proud of our Youthreach and Adult Literacy programmes. They offer help and support to such a wide variety of learners and it is evident here today the impact that these programmes have had on the lives of people who have participated in them. Offering a pathway for every learner is key to our ethos.
We are pleased to have had the opportunity to meet with the Minister and discuss our future plans for Further Education and Training, Youthreach and our Adult Literacy programmes, and how we hope to further develop and improve them for our learners in the years to come It was a very constructive discussion and I look forward to meeting and liaising with him in the future with regard to Cork Education and Training Board.”