Graduates of the Diploma in Local Development Practice and the Foundation Diploma in Training and Education, have formally completed courses delivered by NUI Galway in the University of Prishtina, Kosovo. This is the first occasion on which academic awards of National University of Ireland, Galway were presented in the Balkans region.
When speaking to the graduates in Kosovo, Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, President, NUI Galway, said: "The Diploma in Local Development Practice has unique and important objectives of meeting social and economic needs of individuals and communities, in Ireland and abroad. Community and Local Development has been a significant component of our Adult and Continuing Education programme at NUI Galway since its foundation in 1950. Over recent years, as our programmes evolved and developed, we have been able to integrate our Local and Community Development training with a range of related courses such as Youth Work, Enterprise Development, Peace-building and, in your course in Kosovo, with Microfinance".
The University has collaborated with the International Centre for Community and Enterprise Development (ICCED) and Kosovo Enterprise Programme (KEP) in the delivery of these educational initiatives. The courses were delivered with the support of the Irish Government's Overseas Aid programme which provided financial aid to support this project through its Civil Society programme funding.
Dr Ó Muircheartaigh added: "We believe that the enhancement of local development, which can improve the economic status and quality of life of individuals and local communities, must remain a central goal of our adult education programmes. Through education and training, we must strive to enhance local responsiveness in order to address issues such as poverty, social exclusion and economic competitiveness which currently challenge all of us across Europe".
The Adult and Continuing Education Office at NUI Galway has nurtured a series of interventions, in the form of both specialist academic programmes and innovative social strategies, designed to bring the benefits of University education to rural communities and individuals who might otherwise have not an opportunity to develop their potential. In recent years, courses have been made available in locations in the Baltic countries including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and in South Africa, Sri Lanka and most recently in Kosovo.
The European Union's TEMPUS Programme will fund the work between NUI Galway and the University of Prishtina, Kosovo in the development and delivery of a new Masters degree in Civil Society and Local Development in autumn 2007.