Lifelong learning : the unheard voices
Mature Students are a unique group o f individuals because they share common characteristics that are distinct to this group. They have many other roles and responsibilities and therefore, have to ‘fit’ education into their lives unlike the traditional student who comes directly from secondary school. Mature Students have need for specific supports that need to be addressed particularly so in a ‘Knowledge Based’ Economy where the ‘Employability Factor’ dominates; namely learning is for life. Consequently, specific adjustments need to be put in place for the successful route to, in and through education for adult students. The north and west o f Ireland is mainly rurally populated and many individuals from the stated group live in isolated communities; and because of this the reality is countless numbers are given little or no opportunity to avail o f further education; it is beyond their reach. This study has been carried out using qualitative and quantitative methods of research. The primary research made use of Focus Groups with volunteering students, followed by student Questionnaires and finishing with Interviews with Educator/Mentors from different educational settings. The findings show that Mature Students face and ascend many internal and external barriers and obstacles and addressing these barriers will make the path in and through education an easier and less pressurised one. However, the delivery of education has to be tailored to meet the educational needs of those most in need of further knowledge.
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