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Gaeltacht primary students being inspired by special STEM programme ‘An Chruinne’

An Chruinne

A special education programme in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics called ‘An Chruinne’ is being run in Gaeltacht primary schools to encourage interest in STEM subjects amongst students. The pilot programme, which is devised by Údarás na Gaeltachta and JAI, will operate for its second year in 16 primary schools in 7 Gaeltacht regions across counties Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Kerry, Cork, Waterford and Meath.

The 2019 programme was officially launched by Chief Whip and Minister of State for Gaeilge, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Seán Kyne T.D. and Máire Treasa Ní Cheallaigh, broadcaster and former RTÉ journalist who has recently returned to education and is undertaking a degree in medicine.

Studies show that 30% of Irish students don’t understand how STEM is relevant to their lives and 44% of Irish secondary school respondents believed that STEM subjects are more suited to men than women.

With this in mind Maire Treasa Ní Cheallaigh, at the launch of An Chruinne, said, “We all understand the importance of science, and it is wonderful that this is being promoted now amongst children and young people, especially girls. I thought it was interesting that research has shown that almost half of students questioned thought that science was more suited to men than women, and that all students need role models to keep them motivated.

Just like in sports, there is a place for women in science, and a lot of progress has been made in recent years. The An Chruinne programme is another positive step.”

Máire Treasa Ní Cheallaigh recently became a medical student and the experience has highlighted for her the importance of encouraging an interest in science from an early age and offering children positive and practical science experiences that will encourage them to take up science subjects in secondary education and onwards.

“I didn’t do science for my Leaving Cert and so when I began my first semester at medical school last September, I felt like I was on the back foot compared to others in my class. When I was at school I didn’t realise the relevance these subjects would have for me. Giving children an early, positive experience will mean they are perhaps less fearful of these subjects later on and opens up so many more opportunities for them.”

The programme consists of five modules and will teach the higher primary classes Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and it is important that such a programme is being delivered through the medium of Irish in primary schools in the Gaeltacht. 

The Minister of State with responsibility for Gaeilge, the Gaeltacht and the Islands Seán Kyne, T.D., said “It is important that we encourage the Gaeltacht’s younger generation towards science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Providing them with a range of skills to realise their ambitions will lead to a brighter and more innovative future for the Gaeltacht.”

Údarás na Gaeltachta Chief Executive, Mícheál Ó hÉanaigh also added “Innovation and the Irish language are cornerstones of Údarás na Gaeltachta’s strategy in the years ahead and this programme delivers both in equal measure. It is essential for us to encourage the Gaeltacht’s younger generation to move towards innovation and spark an interest in STEM sectors through their native language. We are delighted to continue working with Junior Achievement Ireland, Gaeltacht primary schools and local business volunteers to inspire our future entrepreneurs and scientists.”

Helen Raftery, Chief Executive of JAI said, “We are delighted to have the continued support of Údarás na Gaeltachta as we work with local schools and volunteers to get young people excited about studying science and the skills required for their future success. Helping students to link the work they are doing in class with the world outside of school enhances their learning experience, and the work of volunteers from business and industry alongside teachers is a great way to make that happen. The presence of the Minister of State with responsibility for Gaeilge, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Sean Kyne T.D. serves to underline the importance of role models in inspiring young people to see the value of studying STEM.”


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The Power of Design - Inspiring Students to Shape their own Future

The Power of Design 1Pictured at the Power of Design celebratory event are Helen Raftery, CEO, JAI; Ali Grehan, Dublin City Architect; Josepha Madigan TD., Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Gerald Craddock, Chief Officer, Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (CEUD)

Students nationwide will have the opportunity to learn about the value of design in everyday life as the Power of Design programme is to be scaled up in partnership with Dublin City Council and the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (CEUD).

The Power of Design uses a learning by doing methodology to demonstrate to primary and second level students the positive impact of design on social, cultural and economic life. The programme was initiated in 2015 as part of Dublin City Council’s Pivot Dublin submission and more than 3,000 students have participated in Dublin City Council catchment areas.

The Power of Design 2The Power of Design volunteers from 2018/19The extension of the partnership to include the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design, (CEUD) will help to facilitate a trial of the programme to run nationally from March 2019.  A  further 16 schools in North and West Dublin, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Cavan, Donegal and Cork will participate in 2019.

Power of Design is delivered by design volunteers from the working world who are recruited, trained and supported by JAI. The volunteers have relevant experience in a diverse range of areas, including construction, computing, technology, marketing, management consulting, architecture, innovation and finance.

In their work with the volunteer, students consider how the world around us is designed and learn about careers in design, all the while being actively involved in a specially-conceived design challenge. 1,200 students participated in the programme in 2018. Now with the support of the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design the programme will double in size and will also feature new Universal Design content.

Speaking at a Power of Design Celebratory event in the Wood Quay Venue, Josepha Madigan T.D., Minister for Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht offered her support saying: “The Junior Achievement model, which uses the skills and passion of trained business volunteers to inspire students to look at the world around them in a different way, is an ideal format for underlining the importance of design in all aspects of our lives. I am delighted to support this initiative which broadens students’ horizons and highlights the possibilities that lay ahead of, and around, them. Thank you to JAI, DCC and CEUD for expanding the programme to students throughout the country.”

IMG 5544The Power of Design students from O'Connell's CBS Primary School, Dublin 1 were on hand to exhibit their design skills to attendees Dublin City Architect Ali Grehan, who had initially invited JAI to pilot an educational programme in which students would be immersed in the world of design, said: “Young people, as they are reminding us these days, are the future and the success of their future depends on how we design today. The inspirational Power of Design schools programme emerged from a PIVOT Dublin film called SHAPE, which shows how design transforms our lives in beautiful, effective and long lasting ways. It has been a pleasure supporting Junior Achievement Ireland in developing Power of Design and now see the programme reach even more young people with new partners, the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design.”

Gerald Craddock, Chief Officer, Centre for Excellence in Universal Design said: "Creating an equitable society can start with changing behaviours and attitudes at primary school level. The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design is delighted to partner with Dublin City Council and Junior Achievement Ireland to integrate material about a Universal Design approach to compliment the Power of Design workshops in primary schools. Addressing the diverse needs and characteristics of all people by applying a Universal Design approach inspires the creation of more holistic environments covering buildings, spaces, products and services including technologies. In short universal design is good design."

IMG 5531Dublin City Architect Ali Grehan addresses attendeesJAI CEO Helen Raftery added: “Dublin City Architect Ali Grehan inspired us to develop a workshop to promote an awareness of the importance of design. We are delighted that the CEUD are joining forces with us and Dublin City Council.  This is an exciting opportunity to bring an awareness of the power of design to life in a real and meaningful way to even more students. Teachers are acutely aware of the value of role models to reinforce learning outcomes and are hugely positive about the involvement of volunteers pursuing careers in roles where design is fundamental. We are grateful to both our partner schools and the hundreds of design volunteers that are helping us to communicate these important messages to young people all over the country.”

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JAI Launches TESA – an Initiative to Support & Recognise Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education in Schools

  • Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh T.D. launches The Entrepreneurial School Awards (TESA)
  • Best-in-class schools to be recognised with TESA accreditation
  • National winners to be announced at first annual TESA Summit in October 2019

NO FEE JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT 03Joe McHugh TD., Minister for Education and Skills, joined JAI CEO Helen Raftery and students from Drimnagh Castle Secondary School and Scoil Chaitríona Cailíní at the the launch of TESA

JAI are delighted to launch a new awards scheme to showcase excellence in entrepreneurship education, which has been officially announced by Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD. Details of the new scheme, which includes a prize fund of €10,000, were provided at a special event in The Marker Hotel Dublin, to celebrate 100 years of Junior Achievement (JA). The Entrepreneurial School Awards (TESA) will celebrate the hard work and achievements of primary and second level schools across the country which endeavour to develop entrepreneurial skills in students.

AM8I5833Joe McHugh TD., Minister for Education and Skills, launches TESASpeaking at this morning’s event, Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD said: “I am delighted to launch The Entrepreneurial School Awards with Junior Achievement Ireland today. The awards are a great opportunity to shine a light on the innovative work done by schools in preparing our young people to achieve success in their lives and in the workplace of the future. The shape of the workplace a decade from now and what jobs people will be doing is difficult to imagine. What we do know is that we need to prepare our young people with entrepreneurial skills. We need to equip young people with the confidence, adaptability and attitude required to prepare for such an unpredictable future."

Entrepreneurship education, as defined by the European Commission, covers all activities that seek to give individuals the skills, knowledge and attitudes required to achieve the goals they set for themselves to live a fulfilled life. Those skills include the ability to think positively, to identify opportunities, to have confidence in oneself as well as to set and achieve personal and professional goals. These skills are essential to preparing children for the future work place and to achieve success in their lives after they finish school.

AM8I5715The launch of TESA was announced at a JA 100 Celebration in The Marker Hotel attended by leaders in business and educationSpeaking on behalf of JAI, Chief Executive Helen Raftery said: “In our work with schools across Ireland, we see at first-hand the incredible work being done to prepare students to achieve success in their futures. We are delighted that TESA will give us the opportunity to formally recognise that excellent work, as well as identifying an overall winner (TESA School of the Year), which will represent Ireland at the European Entrepreneurial School Awards in Helsinki in November. We encourage all partner schools to share the details of their commitment to entrepreneurship education and join us at the summit in October to engage with other educators in this field. Of course, there is also a chance to be designated best-in-class.”

Awards Process and the Announcement of the National Winner
The call for submissions will issue to JAI partner schools in mid-February. Schools will be notified in September if they have achieved the TESA accreditation in Year 1 and JAI is planning to accommodate delegates from over 100 schools to recognise achievements and engage in an educators’ summit in October.

All TESA-accredited schools will be eligible for the five national category prizes and one will be selected as ‘TESA School of the Year’. The school designated as Ireland’s most entrepreneurial school will also be invited to represent Ireland at the Entrepreneurial Schools Conference in Helsinki in November 2019.

The first annual TESA Summit
A highlight of the scheme will be the first annual TESA Summit. As well as announcing the five national category winners, the TESA Summit will allow schools to exchange best practice and to participate in specially-commissioned masterclasses with international experts in entrepreneurship education. The summit will encourage innovation and the continuous development of those working to provide opportunities for entrepreneurship education in our schools.

Clive Byrne, Director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), said: “Entrepreneurship education is an essential element of holistic education and its importance will only grow in the future. We are delighted that JAI is recognising the work of teachers, principals and deputy principals, who often undertake this work on a voluntary basis.”

In echoing those views, David Ruddy, President of the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN), highlighted that in addition to the generous awards and bursaries, “the annual TESA Summit offers a unique opportunity for entrepreneurship educators to come together, to share best practice and to build a support network of like-minded educators and schools. We look forward to this contributing to this unique collaboration to support and complement the work of educators all over the country.”

For full details of the application process for TESA please visit: The Entrepreneurial School Awards (TESA) or email TESA@jai.ie 

NO FEE JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT 02Students from Scoil Chaitríona Cailíní, Coolock, Dublin 5 were on hand to demonstrate the skills they had practiced during their JA programmes

AM8I5757The JA 100 event featured a panel discussion on the The Future of Work with Gillian Nelis, managing editor of The Sunday Business Post; Peter Cosgrove, Skills & Talent Expert; Bob Lenz, Chief Executive of the Buck Institute for Education (BIE) and Dr Orlaigh Quinn, Secretary General of the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation

AM8I5815The girls from Scoil Chaitríona Cailíní lead the Minister and business leaders through an activity featured in the Our World programme

AM8I5712Peter Cosgrove provided a fascinating insight into the future of work

AM8I6025Helen Raftery, JAI CEO with students from Scoil Chaitríona Cailíní and Drimnagh Castle Secondary School, Dublin 12


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Limerick Students win Nationwide Safety Competition sponsored by Gas Networks Ireland

GNI PhotoWinning students Mark Doolan and Matthew Collins with Julie O’Donoghue, Corporate Responsibility Manager at Gas Networks Ireland and 6th Class Teacher Seamus Barry

Students from Ballybrown National School, Carrig East, Co. Limerick have won a nationwide competition to raise awareness of Carbon Monoxide and the dangers that it can pose in our homes.

6th class students Mark Doolan and Matthew Collins had taken part in the Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI) Energize programme which is run in partnership with Gas Networks Ireland (GNI).

The competition featured hundreds of entries from all over Ireland however Mark and Matthew’s poster, featuring creative imagery and a poem about the dangers of carbon monoxide, was deemed first among equals. Thanks to the efforts of Mark and Matthew, their class received a prize presented by Gas Networks Ireland. Further carbon monoxide poster competitions will take place in next two school terms. The students were guided by their Energize programme volunteer Andy Cunningham from Dell and teacher Seamus Barry.

Class Teacher Seamus Barry said: “The Energize programme was a wonderful way to introduce the practical side of science to students. The carbon monoxide poster competition really grabbed my class’s attention and the fact that Mark and Matthew’s entry won is the cherry on the cake.  Thanks to Andy from Dell for his work with the students – he was a great role model for the working world - and Gas Networks Ireland for supporting such an important initiative.”

GNI 2The winning entry from Mark and MatthewCarbon monoxide awareness is an important element of the recently launched Gas Networks Ireland supported Energize programme. Energize will introduce science to over 5,000 primary school students all over Ireland with the help of 200 volunteers from local businesses who will be trained, facilitated and supported by Junior Achievement Ireland. The overall aim of the programme is to cultivate an interest in science so that students continue with the subject to second level education.

Ian O’Flynn, Head of Commercial and Corporate Affairs at Gas Networks Ireland commented: “At Gas Networks Ireland, we’re big supporters of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), as they are at the centre of our business. Our long-term objective in supporting STEM education is to develop students’ interest in STEM subjects, with the ultimate aim of inspiring the workforce of the future to pursue STEM careers.   This is the first year of our new primary school STEM programme, Energize, which contains an important module about the dangers of carbon monoxide and the warning signs of poisoning.

Congratulations to the students at Ballybrown National School for winning the Term 1 Energize art competition.  I’m delighted that so many schools have already engaged with Energize and that we’ve received entries to our carbon monoxide safety poster competition from schools across Ireland. Most importantly, more students are now aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide and will be able to spot the warning signs in the future”.

We are now accepting entries for all Term 2 posters. See more details at https://www.jai.ie/our-programmes/energize-competition.html.

If you would like to register your interest in having Energize delivered in your school, please contact Junior Achievement Ireland at info@jai.ie

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Young Entrepreneurs Inspired by Údarás na Gaeltachta Companies Programme

141218 24 2Éabha Ní Mhaoilbhín, Megan NÍ Fhlátharta, Sarah Ní Conchubhair, Róisín Ní Phrionsias and Kyra Ní Riain of Coláiste na Coiribe playing their ‘Banda’ game Seán Kyne T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht at the launch of Údarás na Gaeltachta - Clár na gComhlachtaí 2018-19

This year more than 750 Transition Year students are looking forward to taking part in Údarás na Gaeltachta’s - Clár na gComhlachtaí which encourages budding entrepreneurs in the Gaeltacht areas of Cork, Donegal, Galway, Mayo, Meath, Kerry and Waterford to develop their own mini-enterprises and compete in a national final.

Seán Kyne T.D., Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht officially launched the 2018/19 programme in Coláiste na Coiribe, in Galway today (14/12/2018) and students from the school were on hand to give a preview of some of the innovative ideas that have emerged so far during this year’s programme.

141218 32Helen Raftery, Junior Achievement Ireland, Eimear Ní Chonchúir, Coláiste na Coiribe, Seán Kyne T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Mícheál Ó hÉanaigh, Údaras na Gaeltachta and Rebecca Delaney, Coláiste na Coiribe Clár na gComhlachtaí is a hands-on business learning experience developed and delivered in partnership with Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI) and is taught through the Irish language to students attending schools in Gaeltacht regions. The programme is well-established in post primary schools in Gaeltacht areas and has grown significantly in participation over recent years. The programme provides numerous opportunities for the development and reinforcement of important academic and leadership skills.

Local business volunteers and development executives from Údarás na Gaeltachta mentor the students alongside their teachers as they move from the idea generation stage, to production, marketing, sales, finance right through to going to market.

Minister Kyne commented, “The entrepreneurial skills and practical business experience developed through Údarás na Gaeltachta’s Clár na gComhlachtaí will no doubt be of long-term benefit to the Gaeltacht as these young people move on and become the heart of the Gaeltacht economy. Údarás na Gaeltachta and Junior Achievement Ireland are to be congratulated for continually increasing participation in the programme in all Gaeltacht areas.”

The students will take part in Regional Finals in March 2019 where they will showcase their finished products at trade stands and be interviewed by a judging panel before pitching their business ideas on stage to a public audience. The regional finals are an opportunity for the students to demonstrate the knowledge gained and the skills acquired in the course of the programme. Successful regional finalists will then progress to a National Final in April 2019.

11 Claür Comhlachta JAI UDARASBoue Cosmetics, comprising of Grace Ní Chonchúr, Kate Ní Chnáimhsí, Aifric Nic Niallais, Clionagh Nic Suibhne, Molly Nic Pháidín and Caitlin James were Winners of the Údarás na Gaeltachta Clár na gComhlachtaí 2018Last year’s national final winners were BOUE, a company from Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair, Co. Donegal. BOUE developed their own line of skincare products made from moss peat, seaweed and other natural ingredients.

Mícheál Ó hÉanaigh, CEO of Údarás na Gaeltachta, commented that “Údarás na Gaeltachta is dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship in Gaeltacht areas and we would like to thank Junior Achievement Ireland for their continued partnership in delivering this programme. The Clár na gComhlachtaí programme is an ideal opportunity to instil a sense of entrepreneurship in our younger generations which will lead to an even brighter future for Gaeltacht areas. I would like to wish all the students the best of luck with their projects.

On behalf of JAI, Chief Executive Helen Raftery said: “Entrepreneurship education programmes led by role models from outside the school community complement the work of our teachers and assist in skills development as well as broadening of career possibilities. Thanks to Údarás na Gaeltachta, Clár na gComhlachtaí students in Gaeltacht areas throughout the country will benefit greatly from this real to life entrepreneurial experience.

Based on research on entrepreneurship education, students participating in Údarás Clár na gComhlachtaí are more likely to start their own business, are at lower risk of being unemployed, and are more often in steady employment into adulthood. These projected outcomes are based on the success schemes around Europe, which incorporate the JA Company Programme, on which the design of Clár na gComhlachtaí is based.

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