Greece: Larissa joins the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities
The city of Larissa in Greece sees its development into a learning city as one of the ways to tackle unemployment, social and healthcare challenges. Larissa, which has just joined the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC), has already started implementing the Key Features of Learning Cities provided in the Guiding Documents of the Network.
The financial crisis in Greece
With a population of around 162,000 people, the city of Larissa is a cultural hub located in central Greece. Larissa was hard-hit by the financial crisis in Greece, which started six years ago, and it still faces numerous social and economic setbacks. It is estimated that one in every five Greeks belongs to a family with no income and that currently 75% of the young population between twenty and thirty years is unemployed. The social and healthcare systems have also been strained by the crisis. These factors have led the city to resort to the learning city concept to help tackle its challenges and further development despite the country’s financial crisis.
Larissa’s future as a learning city
The Municipality of Larissa, in cooperation with the Scientific Union of Adult Education, has launched an initiative titled ‘A learning city’ .The aim is not only to support sensitive social groups which are struck by the financial crisis, but also to motivate the city’s residents to experience personal evolution through lifelong learning. Larissa plans to do this by creating a steering committee to set-up learning programmes for specific target groups in its population. Furthermore, the city aims to promote lifelong learning by introducing a ‘lifelong learning week’ and publicly sharing good examples of learning cities on its Blog page.
As a member of the GNLC, Larissa plans to link with other cities to exchange good practice and expertise. The city of Larissa made progress in promoting inclusive learning in its education system and the revitalizing learning in families and communities and can share its experience with other cities in the Network. In developing into a Learning City, the city’s government aims to boost resource mobilization, improve governance and the participation of all stakeholders, promote learning in the workplace, and encourage the use of modern learning technologies. They are keen to learn how other learning cities around the world have gone about making these changes.
In welcoming Larissa to the Network, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), which is the Network’s secretariat commends Larissa for its ongoing initiatives towards building a Learning City.