Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin is working with renowned Malaysian early years education provider to facilitate exciting educational opportunities for Bachelor of Arts in Early Years Care and Education students
Athlone Institute of Technology has signed a memorandum of understanding with an early years education provider in Malaysia to facilitate the development of online modules, research projects and curricula for early years care and education degrees and the bilateral flow of students and staff.
The provider in question, Hansel and Gretel, is known for their quality preschool and childcare programmes which are designed to support childhood learning and development and imbue students with the skills of the future. Their unique education philosophy, which encourages self-directed learning, focuses on five key pillars: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, cultural diversity, and character building.
The provider is also interested in integrating good practices from the Irish Early Years Care and Education programme of AISTEAR into their learning framework, adapting it to suit both Malaysian and Asian culture.
Hansel and Gretel’s staff believe that emphasising each child’s uniqueness and creativity through experiential learning and play greatly enhances learning and, as such, organise activities, both indoor and outdoor, in safe, nurturing educational environments.
According to Oliver Hegarty, Head of Department of Social Care at Athlone Institute of Technology, early years students will benefit from participating in these education-driven field trips which serve to demonstrate positive contributions to childhood development and outcomes.
“Our educational partnership with Hansel and Gretel will greatly enhance the learning of our early years care and education students, equipping them with the skills necessary to carve out successful careers internationally and at home,” he explained.
Currently, Athlone Institute of Technology offers a three-year Bachelor of Arts in Early Years Education followed by a one-year ‘add-on’ Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Early Years Care and Education. Graduates of this programme are eligible to pursue a postgraduate qualification in early years education by way of blended learning.
Commenting on the close academic links forged between Athlone Institute of Technology and the Malaysian education sector, President of Athlone Institute of Technology, Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin said: “Traditionally, Malaysian students travelled to Ireland to study medicine, but more and more are choosing to complete two or three years of study at home in Malaysia before transferring to Athlone Institute of Technology to complete the final year of their degrees.”
“Areas of interest include accounting, business, hotel management, mechanical and polymer engineering, software engineering, pharmaceutical science and biotechnology. In particular, our Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Applied Psychology has proven immensely popular with Malaysian students.”
Currently, more than 60 Malaysian students call Athlone Institute of Technology their ‘home away from home’ with many receiving funding from the President’s Seed Fund to pursue Master by Research and PhD programmes at one of the institute’s three primary research centres - Materials Research Institute, Bioscience Research Institute and Software Research Institute.
An educational powerhouse defined by a commitment to academic excellence, rigour and applied education, Athlone Institute of Technology has enjoyed considerable successes in the academic arena this year, most notably being named ‘best in class’ for research across the technological higher education sector. Further solidifying its reputational prowess, the institute was recently awarded ‘Best Academic Partnership’ at the prestigious national Education Awards for its part in developing SURE, Ireland’s first academic network dedicated to promoting undergraduate STEM research across the technological higher education sector. These accolades build upon the institute’s success in winning the Sunday Times Good University Guide ‘Institute of Technology of the Year’ award in 2018.