• College Awareness Week (CAW) takes place from 20-26 November 2017
  • Minister Bruton was joined by Joe Duffy to launch the annual nationwide campaign
  • Events across the country aim to raise awareness around the value of further and higher education and the opportunities it creates

Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, today launched College Awareness Week 2017 at the Department of Education and Skills.

Joe Duffy, Radio and TV Broadcaster—who recently presented the RTE documentary “The Classroom Divide” examining the issue of inequality of opportunity in Irish education—was also on hand for the launch of College Awareness Week 2017. Commenting on the launch, Joe Duffy said, “As I pointed out in my recent TV documentary, education is the key to change, the fulfillment of everyone’s potential should be the objective of every civilised society.”

College Awareness Week (CAW) will run from 20-26 November 2017.   

CAW aims to inspire and inform all students about the importance of having a post-secondary plan and advocates for every student to have the choice to pursue the course best suited to them, whether that is a PLC qualification, an apprenticeship or a university degree. 

In particular, College Awareness Week is aimed at students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, as well as other marginalised groups that are underrepresented in higher and further education. The objective is to ensure students of all ages and from all backgrounds know the educational opportunities that are available to them. Through raising awareness and encouraging broad participation, CAW aims to help students and potential students on their path to further education.  

Commenting at the launch, Minister Richard Bruton said, “I am delighted to support College Awareness Week 2017. This is a very positive initiative which has, as its aim, a vital objective: to increase participation in higher and further education by those from socially disadvantaged communities. Education has a transformative effect, opening doors that would otherwise be closed. Breaking down barriers to education is a key priority of mine as Minister and I want to encourage as many people as possible to support College Awareness Week, get involved, and do your part to increase awareness about the educational opportunities that exist throughout the country. Congratulations to all those involved.”

Also at the launch were Clive Byrne (Director, National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals), Kathleen O’Toole-Brennan (CAW Campaign Founder, Trinity College Dublin), Dr Graham Love (CEO Higher Education Authority), Nikki Gallagher (Director of Communications and Secretariat, SOLAS), as well as representatives of the campaign’s corporate sponsor, Perrigo.

Director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), Clive Byrne, said “This year marks the 50th year since the introduction of free secondary education in Ireland, the effects of which have been felt by generations of Irish people. The benefits of education cannot be overstated. The consequences stretch not just through individual lives but through families, communities, and generations. The goal of College Awareness Week is to raise awareness of the value of education among the communities that can benefit from it the most. We want to see participation in education increase substantially amongst groups who are underrepresented in education. Our goal is to see the ripple effects of education spread through the country.”

CAW is a multi-organisational and collaborative campaign which invites communities across Ireland to host events in schools, afterschool programmes, Colleges of Further and Higher education, training centres, libraries and businesses, among others. These community events aim to raise awareness of the opportunities available and to showcase local personalities who have benefitted from further education.

Now in its fourth year, the campaign has been a runaway success with over 1,200 events held across the country last year. 

Nikki Gallagher, Director of Communications and Secretariat, SOLAS said, “It is so important that people are aware of all career paths available and that they choose the path best suited to them. Further education and training offers fantastic career paths that many may not be aware of. We are delighted to be involved in College Awareness Week and show people all further education and training has to offer. SOLAS is delighted to be an official sponsor of College Awareness Week for the first time this year and we look forward to working with the local Education and Training Boards in organising events around the country.”

Dr Graham Love, CEO of the Higher Education Authority said, “The HEA is delighted to support College Awareness Week. Equality of access to education is a key objective of the HEA and we have seen the huge success of College Awareness Week in helping to raise awareness of the opportunities that education creates. We believe in the power of education to transform lives and create broad opportunities for people of all ages and from all backgrounds. Education cannot be the preserve of the few.”

College Awareness Week is supported by the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, Ibec, the Institute of Guidance Counsellors and the Trinity Access Programmes. College Awareness Week is sponsored by the Higher Education Authority, SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority and Perrigo.

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