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The mission of Co. Mayo VEC is to develop, to deliver
educational excellence and to support an environment which is structured for
Co. Mayo VEC is one of thirty-three VECs that are
responsible for the delivery of education programmes and support services at
second level, community, further and higher education levels within its region.
In 1927 the Commission of Technical Education, set up by
the Minister for Education, John Marcus O'Sullivan, proposed the establishment
of Vocational Education Committees. The 1930 Vocational Education Act
established Statutory Committees in Local Authority areas to develop technical
and continuing education. Thus the Vocational Education Committees were
established and began to provide the infrastructure required for the provision
of their services. The Vocational Act 1930 has proved to be a very
comprehensive, forward thinking Act which also included the provision of what
was termed as continuing education, now termed lifelong learning.
The first meeting of County Mayo Vocational Education
Committee, by order of the Minister for Education, was held in the Courthouse,
Castlebar on Tuesday, 11th November 1930, at 12 o'clock noon. Mr. A. J.
Carolan was Secretary to the Committee at that time and the income of the
Committee in its first year was £6,116. Mr Carolan served as
Secretary/C.E.O. until his retirement in January 1933 when Padraic O'Lochlainn
commenced his career as Chief Executive Officer.
In the late 1940's the Day Vocational (Group) Certificate
was introduced and helped to standardise the curriculum in Vocational
Schools. In 1966 Vocational Schools were facilitated to provide courses
leading to the Intermediate and Leaving Certificate Examinations. This
led to a huge expansion of Vocational Schools and enabled the students from
these schools to progress to Further and Higher level Education.
Sean O'Regan was appointed Chief Executive Officer in
April 1965 and served in that capacity until 1987. In 1966 County Mayo
Vocational Education Committee managed twelve schools in Ballina, Castlebar, Westport, Ballyhaunis, Belmullet,
Claremorris, Crossmolina, Geesala, Swinford, Ballinrobe, Kiltimagh and Achill. Two additional
schools, Lackencross and Charlestown
were opened in 1969 and in 1972, Colaiste Chomain, Ros Dumhnach joined the
Vocational Education Committee's scheme.
Following a decade of expansion both in terms of facilities and student
numbers, it became apparent that there was an over supply of small schools in
the County. Declining student numbers locally and nationally together
with school amalgamations. Catchment areas that had traditionally been
served by two or more second level schools were encouraged to join together into
the new model, the Community
Following these amalgamations the number of schools in the Vocational Education
Committee's scheme was reduced to eight, namely Achill, Belmullet, Castlebar,
Ballina, Crossmolina, Lackencross, Ros Dumhnach, and Westport.
In 1998 saw the opening of the Castlebar College of Further Education
specialising in the provision of Further Education and Post Leaving Certificate
(PLC) programmes. While much of the development of VEC services occurred
in the second level sector in the period 1966 to 1985, adult and community
education continued to be addressed. The County scheme has benefited from their
services of its two Adult Education Section who provide programmes and services
in literacy, numeracy, community and second chance education, personal
development, community development, professional and hobby/leisure courses.
Commencing in 1989 the educational initiatives were provided to tackle the
problems of long-term unemployment, early school leaving, the concept of lifelong
learning and literacy provided Vocational Education Committees with many
additional obligations and challenges in new service provision.
Youthreach centres were opened in Ballinrobe, Ballina and Kiltimagh.
Vocational Training Opportunities Schemes (VTOS) were commenced in Swinford,
Ballina, Castlebar and Ballinrobe. Literacy services were based in
Swinford, Ballina, Ballinrobe and Castlebar. These services were all
located in existing VEC facilities and facilitated a quick response to the
provision of services within the County. At a later stage additional
centres were added in rented premises in Achill, Belmullet, and
Mayo VEC manages Traveller Training Centres in Ballyhaunis, Ballinrobe and
Castlebar. The expansion of the centres covers the major areas of the
traveller population in the County and the centres provide culturally sensitive
environments for travellers who wish to engage with the education and training
service offered. The aim of the centres is to provide Travellers with the
knowledge skills and attitudes required to successfully make the transition to
work and adult life, and to participate fully in their communities.
Since the identification of the problems associated with literacy were
highlighted in the 1998 Green Paper on Adult Education, additional resources
have been provided annually for the provision of programmes to tackle the
issues of literacy and numeracy. The employment of Adult Literacy
Organisers throughout the County brought the services closer to rural
populations. The commencement of the Back to Education Initiative (BTEI)
has added a further dimension and resources in this area of provision.
These services are located in existing VTOS and Literacy centres managed by
existing Coordinators and Organisers. Many of the programmes provided have a
specific vocational skills focus in response to local needs and the service is
always seeking opportunities to facilitate the needs of learners in the County.
The appointment of a Community Education Facilitator in 2003 has added new
impetus to the development of services in community education and new
programmes continue to be developed. Supporting the delivery of Community
Education by other providers is a new approach with courses being provided for
volunteers working with community organisations.