Learning cities in Germany: Gelsenkirchen joins the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities


© Gelsenkirchen City
14 October 2016

The city of Gelsenkirchen has become the first city in Germany to join the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC), paving the way for more learning cities in Germany to become part of this dynamic international network.

Gelsenkirchen, a city of 257,651 inhabitants, has been facing major economic challenges for some years. According to the city’s data, 40.5 per cent of children under the age of three are growing up in families dependent on social welfare. To tackle this, Gelsenkirchen has invested a great deal of effort in developing better and more efficient education measures in recent years. Since 2008, for example, its initiatives have been largely based on the concept of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). This has seen Gelsenkirchen develop and implement a wide range of educational measures, from early childhood, adult to senior education programmes. The city has also established a Youth City Council and introduced programmes focusing on the needs of migrant learners. For those initiatives, Gelsenkirchen has already received the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development award four times from the German Commission for UNESCO.  

Building a learning city for the future of Gelsenkirchen

In 2015, Gelsenkirchen decided to take its efforts one step further to become a leading learning city. The city´s ‘Vision 2030’ is centred on the belief that education [German: Bildung] and participation are key to the future viability of the city. With this vision, Gelsenkirchen is participating in the national City of the Future 2030+ competition [Zukunftsstadt 2030+]. The city has also, together with 110 organisations and institutions, recently issued a joint declaration on establishing Gelsenkirchen as a learning city. The parties to the declaration commit to championing sustainable educational and lifelong learning measures and to promoting the skills needed to shape the future of the city.

With Gelsenkirchen joining the network and sharing its good practices, GNLC looks forward to welcoming more learning cities in Germany.