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Launch of Saolta


The Saolta programme was launched at the Mansion House in Dublin on January 30th. This programme is the latest global citizenship initiative supported by Irish Aid, the Government’s overseas development programme at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The ‘Saolta’ programme is run in communities across the country by Drogheda based development education NGO Development Perspectives.

The Saolta programme is managed by a consortium comprising lead agency Development Perspectives, as well as Ireland’s national adult learning organisation Aontas, international NGO Concern Worldwide, Irish Rural Link which works with disadvantages and marginalised groups in rural communities across Ireland and finally the Department of Community and Adult Education in Maynooth University.

Saolta’s overall objective is to increase the accessibility, quality and effectiveness of development education within the Adult and Community Education sector in Ireland. In doing this Saolta hopes to support high quality development education supporting communities to build a greater awareness and understanding of global development issues and have a greater capacity to take action.

The first step of the Saolta programme involves delivering development education training with an SDG focus to educators in the non-formal and ACE sectors. Development Perspectives will then sustain and enable these educators by designing and distributing train the trainer’s toolkits, SDG toolkits and SDG workbooks. Regional development education workshops will also be delivered to a number of Further Education Institutes, to members of Public Participation Networks (PPNs) and the public. This will be accompanied by the development of a research databases and academic articles being published on existing development education provision in the ACE sector. Finally, four annual Saolta steering group meetings will be facilitated by Development Perspectives and stakeholders.

Saolta One
Bobby McCormack, Development Perspectives speaking as part of the panel discussion. (Credit. Deborah Conlon)

Keynote speaker, Orla McBreen, Director of the Civil Society and Development Unit within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spoke passionately about the need for impactful development education in our communities by asking: “How can be ensure that the amazing activism that we are  seeing in Ireland and across the world on climate change is well informed and sustained? How can we build on this real passion and energy to strengthen engagement across a range of other global citizenship issues such as poverty, gender equality and migration?”

Saolta Two
Orla McBreen, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade delivering the keynote speech as part of the event. (Credit. Deborah Conlon)

This was then followed by a panel discussion involving Bobby McCormack (Development Perspectives), Professor Tom Collins (National Water Forum) and Suzanne Kyle (Aontas). The panellists spoke on a variety of different topics relating to adult development education. Suzanne Kyle spoke about the importance of both community education and development education and how the Saolta programme aims to build the linkages between these two critical forms of education.

Saolta Three
From left to right: Bobby McCormack, Development Perspectives, Orla McBreen, Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dominic McSorley, Concern, Michael Doorly, Concern, Michael Kenny, Maynooth University, Aine Doody, Irish Aid and Sinead Dooley, Irish Rural Link. (Credit. Deborah Conlon)


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