AONTAS, the National Adult Learning Organisation is seeking nominations from adult learning initiatives in Cork for the annual STAR Awards 2021.

Previous STAR Award recipients in Cork include the NLN (National Learning Network) Focus Recovery Programme, The Dillon’s Cross Project and Ability at Work in 2020 and The Bessborough Centre in 2019.

The STAR Awards will take on extra significance in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic as we celebrate and acknowledge the incredible work that adult learning providers have done in adapting their provision to ensure that the learners’ needs continue to be met.

To highlight the diverse range of quality adult learning initiatives taking place across the country, AONTAS welcomes STAR Award nominations in five categories for 2021:

  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Learner Voice
  • Social Inclusion
  • Sustainable Development through Education
  • Third-Level Access and Engagement

Two Special Awards will be given for Mitigating Educational Disadvantage through Innovation (during COVID-19), and a European Social Fund Special Recognition Award.

Speaking about the awards, Niamh O’Reilly, Chief Executive Officer of AONTAS said:

This year adult learning initiatives have adapted and reimagined their learning provision including; new ways of recruitment and outreach, online/ hybrid learning and assessment, utilising new methods of communication technology and providing safe spaces for those learners to engage in education.

The STAR Awards provides a brilliant opportunity to recognise the outstanding work in adult learning and also gives initiatives the opportunity to spotlight their excellent work across Ireland and bring national recognition to learners, staff and organisations.”

Since its inception in 2007, thousands of adult learning initiatives across a wide variety of areas – including increasing educational access for all including those with a disability, supporting positive mental health and as part of addiction recovery – have been recognised through the STAR Awards.

How to nominate

To nominate an adult learning initiative, please visit: The deadline for receipt of nominations is Friday, 18th December.

Winners will be announced at the STAR Awards ceremony, which will take place online on Monday, 1st March 2021. This ceremony will form the opening event of the Adult Learners’ Festival 2021 taking place from 1st to 5th March 2021.


The Adult Learners’ Festival

The Adult Learners’ Festival is a nationwide celebration of adult learning coordinated by AONTAS, the National Adult Learning Organisation. The 15thAdult Learners’ Festival will take place from 1st – 5th March 2021. This year, the Festival’s key focus will be on collaboration and the theme of Better Together, sending a strong message of hope to the Irish Adult Learning Sector.

Over the past fifteen years, the Festival has become a firm fixture on the adult learning calendar with events taking place nationwide, including information sessions, taster workshops, sample lectures to small gatherings of people who love to learn. Visit for more information.

Social Media

  • Follow @AONTAS on Twitter using #STARAwards2021 #BetterTogether
  • Like AONTAS on Facebook


AONTAS is the National Adult Learning Organisation. Its mission is to advocate for the right of all adults in Ireland to quality learning throughout their lives, and to promote the value and benefits of lifelong learning. AONTAS has nearly 400 members including Education and Training Boards, community education centres, further education institutions and individual members. Visit for more information.

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