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Egyptian UNESCO Learning City of Aswan reaches out to the disadvantaged

21 January 2020

‘Aswan keenly promotes quality education for all,’ stresses Ahmed Ebrahem, Mayor of the UNESCO Learning City of Aswan. Located in the south of Egypt, the city has made great strides in implementing lifelong learning for its approximately 300,000 inhabitants that will be showcased on International Day of Education 2020 and further developed with relevant stakeholders.

With an integrated network comprising government, NGOs and the private sector, the municipality has implemented a great variety of programmes to ensure learning opportunities for all across different spans of life. In an effort to reach, in particular, marginalized groups, the city has so far built 120 community centres targeting dropouts in deprived areas. That way, those who were not able to complete formal education in the first place are enabled to return to shaping their future through education.

Women and girls still count among those often disadvantaged in Aswan. The learning city has therefore launched an entrepreneurship programme in cooperation with the Social Fund for Development and the Agha Khan and Om Habibeh Foundations, enabling participants to acquire basic knowledge about founding an enterprise and contributing to sustainable economic development. So far, 1,000 young people, half of them girls, have benefited from this programme.

Taking the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a guiding document, Aswan has furthermore implemented a ‘Green Eco-Friendly Schools’ project in 15 primary schools. Students plant and maintain gardens, learn about water conservation, and join up to lead healthy lifestyles. The 2020 title of International Day of Education, ‘Learning for people, planet, prosperity, and peace’, is hence a daily reality in Aswan.

Aswan’s impressive progress in lifelong learning was recognised in the 2019 UNESCO Learning Cities Award. But the city’s mayor stresses that the learning journey will not stop there. He is determined to further enhance efforts to implement lifelong learning: ‘We will continue to build a learning city that supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals by linking education to the needs of society.’

On International Day of Education 2020, the UNESCO learning city will host a public event on further activities of the municipality in cooperation with the Directorate of Education in Aswan, several schools, Aswan University and the Arab Academy for Science and technology. It and continue to involve all stakeholders to make lifelong learning a reality for everyone in Aswan.

About the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities

Learning cities are key drivers to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. They promote good policy and practice, and foster sustainable development at various levels, notably through lifelong learning. The UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities, coordinated by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, supports and improves the practice of lifelong learning in member cities by promoting policy dialogue and peer learning, documenting effective strategies and good practice, fostering partnerships, providing capacity development, and developing tools and instruments to design, implement and monitor learning cities strategies.

Join the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities! Applications open until 30 April 2020.