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Cork City celebrates receiving the UNESCO Learning City Award 2015

22 January 2016

Cork City received the UNESCO Learning City Award at the 2nd International Conference on Learning Cities, which was held in Mexico City in September 2015. This makes Cork the first city in Ireland to receive the Award. On 17 December 2015, the Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Chris O’Leary, held a reception to celebrate this achievement and affirm the city’s continued commitment to lifelong learning.

Investigate! Participate! Celebrate!

Since 2002, Cork City Council has been working on building a learning city by supporting creative initiatives across the city. One such initiative is the Cork Lifelong Learning Festival. Established in 2004, the festival’s motto is ‘Investigate! Participate! Celebrate!’ Over the years, many different educational institutions have opened their doors to the public during the festival. Around 500 events give citizens an opportunity to get a taste of the wide array of learning programmes offered in the city. Thanks to the cooperation of diverse stakeholders, this week-long festival costs only around €25,000 to run. The 2015 UNESCO Learning City Award recognizes Cork City’s firm commitment to promoting lifelong learning through initiatives such as the festival. Further details on Cork City’s experiences in building a learning city can be found in a recent collection of case studies entitled Unlocking the Potential of Urban Communities: Case Studies of Twelve Learning Cities, published by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) in collaboration with the Republic of Korea’s National Institute for Lifelong Education (NILE).

Beyond the Award: Lifelong learning for a better Cork City

To celebrate receiving the UNESCO Learning City Award 2015, stakeholders and participants of the city’s lifelong learning festival, including Dr Michael Murphy, President of University College Cork; Dr Brendan Murphy, President of Cork Institute of Technology; and Ted Owens, CEO of the Cork Education and Training Board, came together in the Council Chamber at Cork City Hall. Representatives of Cork’s sister city, Swansea (UK), which was also a recipient of the UNESCO Learning City Award, joined the celebrations.

Ireland’s Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan TD, congratulated Cork on being ‘one of only twelve cities worldwide to be a case study – an example and inspiration for other cities’. Mr Arne Carlsen, Director of UIL, pointed out that ‘the Cork Lifelong Learning Festival has been very successful in generating enthusiasm among citizens, bringing together stakeholders, and using fun and celebration to make learning a central part of city life.’

The Lord Mayor of Cork said that the Award will encourage the work of the Growing Lifelong Learning in Cork (GLLiC) steering group, adding that ‘lifelong learning is a holistic, inclusive and sector-wide approach and will improve the lives of the city’s residents by reducing inequality and social exclusion as well as increasing employment and encouraging further investment.’ So let’s all investigate, participate and celebrate with Cork City.