ISODE 2013, a Leonardo Da Vinci VETPRO programme, is providing 15 Irish outdoor developmental specialists with a weeklong experience observing the delivery of outdoor education in Slovenia.
Donal Dowd the Director of the Kerry OECs is one of the Irish professionals who will spend a week in six Outdoor Education Centres in Slovenia, working and living alongside their Slovenian counterparts and gaining a valuable insight into the way outdoor education and field studies are delivered to national school children in Slovenia.
The fifteen selected candidates represent a cross-section of all that is good in the provision of outdoor education and field studies to children in Ireland. From both public and private sector, the candidates represent organisations at the forefront of delivery and development of the sector in Ireland.
Along with Cappanalea OEC / Killarney National Park Education Centre (The Kerry OECs) the others participating on the programme include representatives from Petersburg Outdoor Education Centre (OEC), Baltinglass OEC, Shielbaggan OEC, Kinsale OEC, Delphi Adventure Centre, Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, Mór Active, University of Limerick Adventure Centre (Killaloe), Coláiste Dhúlaigh, Killary Adventure Centre, Dunmore East Adventure Centre, Institute of Technology Tralee, Outdoor Discovery and the School Completion Programme.
The group fly into Ljubljana and meet with their partners Center šolskih in obšolskih dejavnosti (CŠOD). The Slovenian national school curriculum requires compulsory attendance on outdoor activity and field studies programmes. Children in Slovenia as a result are, at national school level, required to attend adventure centres twice a year (within their school year) to develop their love, understanding and knowledge of nature and sport.
CŠOD is the largest provider of these activities, catering for up to 60% of all children in Slovenia annually. Their centres throughout this stunning country are situated in every type of landscape, from Alpine mountains to sea shore, karst landscapes (similar to the Burren) to fossil fields. As a result of this compulsory attendance, there are almost twice as many outdoor vocational education centres in Slovenia than in Ireland even though it has half the population.
The Irish candidates will spend a week visiting a selection of CŠOD centres and working with the managers and children. The aim of the programme is to promote the sharing of ideas and best practice.
It is hoped that the placement will also help develop long-lasting relationships between the Irish and Slovenian centres.
When asked about the programme, Mark Toner, Managing Director of Landon Carver and developer of the programme, stated: “We are delighted with the incredible interest in the programme. We were oversubscribed and unable to facilitate everyone who wanted to go on the programme. However, we are delighted with the standard of participants that have been successful in securing a place. It’s an outstanding group of 15 and really represents the best at what they do in Ireland; we would like to pay tribute to them for all their hard work over the years, and for their input in developing the programme.
It’s good to finally have a good news story and we are delighted to be involved. We would also like to pay tribute to Léargas for all their assistance.”