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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 optimal learning.

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 School.  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 Ballyhaunis.  

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.


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