Offaly schools make local and global links – Local and Global Development Day in Tullamore


Over 80 students from Tullamore College and Banagher College took part in a day of workshops on Thursday 12th December, in the Tullamore Court Hotel. The workshops explored our relationship with global issues of poverty, climate change and natural resource security.

The event was hosted by Offaly V.E.C. and coordinated by Fiona Graham, Transition Year coordinator at Tullamore College.
According to Ms. Graham, “The purpose of the day’s events was to  help students to engage in analysis, reflection and action for local and global citizenship and participation by enabling learners to recognise the interconnected nature of our lives and the lives of people in the global South.”

Workshop facilitators at the event included Dorothy Jacobs, Patsy Toland, David Burns and Jim Kirwin from Self Help Africa and Tom Roche from Tullamore-based development education group Just Forests.

“Development Education (DE) is concerned with the building of knowledge and understanding, skills and capacities and attitudes and values necessary to enable individuals to critically examine the world, its development and its interdependencies and to act, both locally and globally, to make it a more just and equitable place,” according to Patsy Toland, a former primary school teacher and currently the development education officer with Self Help Africa and a board member of Just Forests.

“Development education (DE) and education for sustainable development (ESD) is both challenging and hugely rewarding. It takes us out of our comfort zones and compels us to think ‘outside the box’”, according to Self Help Africa development education officer Dorothy Jacob.

The United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD 2005-2014), for which UNESCO is the lead agency, seeks to integrate the principles, values, and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning, in order to address the social, economic, cultural and environmental problems we face in the 21st century.

Just Forests’ Wood of Life exhibition featured at the day’s event. This travelling exhibition has been hosted throughout the country and has received much comments from teacher training colleges:
“We take a very practical hands-on approach to learning. From this practical and critical engagement, the information from the Just Forests Exhibition might mean even more to the children. The exhibition itself opens up direct links to Geography, Music, Religion and Science curricula. The panels offer statistics which can support Maths development. Exploring trees in the vicinity of the school opens possibilities for visual arts and creative writing. Without any effort on the teacher’s part the exhibition involves children in cross curricular learning.” Theresa Hegarty, DICE Lecturer, Froebal College, Dublin

“We had been discussing how to link content and language for English language learners and the importance of visuals when supporting language use. The Wood of Life exhibition was an opportunity for the students to see how the teacher could use a topic to make cross curricular links while also language and literacy skills. The large scale posters were a good example of how to use visual graphics to develop higher order thinking skills, for example: deforestation (cause and effect), species of trees/timber (compare and contrast).”
Theresa McPhillips, Bed 3 Elective, ‘Literacy for English Language Learners’, st. Parick’s College, Drumcondra, Dublin.

Just Forests would like to say a big thank you to Offaly Vocational Education Committee (VEC) and Self Help Africa for hosting the day’s events, to Banagher and Tullamore Colleges for participating so eagerly and in particular to Fiona Graham -Tullamore College for coordinating the activities that made the event an outstanding success.

Just Forests participation in the event was made possible by a grant from Concern Worldwide and we would like to thank Mr Michael Doorley, Head of Active Citizenship with Concern Worldwide for making this happen.

You can find out more about the day’s activities and development education (DE) and education for sustainable development (ESD) in general, by visiting the Just Forests website at: and clicking on ‘WOL Exhibition Schedule’ and the ‘Development Education’ links