Sixteen cities to receive the UNESCO Learning City Award 2017

Hamburg, 19 January 2017 – 16 cities from around the globe will receive the UNESCO Learning City Award this year. The award will be conferred on the cities during the third International Conference on Learning Cities in Cork, Ireland, which will take place from 18 to 20 September 2017. The cities were selected by an international jury for the outstanding progress made in promoting education and lifelong learning in their local communities.

The 2017 awardees are: Bristol (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), Câmara de Lobos (Portugal), Contagem (Brazil), Gelsenkirchen (Germany), Giza (Egypt), Hangzhou (China), Larissa (Greece), Limerick (Ireland), Mayo-Baléo (Cameroon), N’Zérékoré (Guinea), Okayama (Japan), Pécs (Hungary), Surabaya (Indonesia), Suwon (Republic of Korea), Tunis (Tunisia), Villa María (Argentina).

‘I would like to congratulate the awarded cities for their great efforts and devotion to promoting access to education and lifelong learning opportunities for their citizens. These efforts are impressive and go a long way towards ensuring improved living standards for everyone. I hope the UNESCO Learning City Award will motivate the awardees and other cities worldwide to continue working towards inclusive overall development in order to make lifelong learning for all a reality,’ said Arne Carlsen, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) in his congratulatory remarks to the awardees.    

Inspiration and good practice from around the world    

The 16 UNESCO Learning City Award winners are at different stages of evolving into learning cities; each face challenges – whether economic, political, social or environmental – which are specific to the area and therefore define the approaches they adopt.  

Some of the highlights of each cities’ progress include: Bristol, which declared 2016 the ‘year of learning’ and launched a city-wide campaign dubbed ‘love learning’, set up a promising monitoring and evaluation system for its learning city initiative. Câmara de Lobos has put great emphasis on improving the lives of senior citizens by establishing a Senior University. Contagem promotes cooperation between government sectors and citizen participation in order to develop targeted learning opportunities. Gelsenkirchen drew up a declaration signed by over 40 partners to promote its learning city plan. Giza has put great emphasis on enhancing literacy and providing its citizens with incentives to engage in literacy opportunities; these include free education and healthcare. Hangzhou, one of the first learning cities in China, has shown major progress in monitoring the learning city initiative, for example by establishing a research centre for lifelong learning to evaluate the efforts in developing a learning city based on the Key Features of Learning Cities. To enhance dialogue and cooperation among stakeholders, Larissa launched its annual learning city conference in 2015; since then, local, national and international stakeholders have been brought together to discuss the learning city initiative. As part of its learning city development, Limerick established an annual lifelong learning festival in 2011, which has grown from 70 to 250 free events and enables people to experience the city’s learning opportunities. In Mayo-Báleo, where the learning city approach is relatively new, emphasis has been given to citizens’ involvement and the establishment of local coordination committees to promote bottom-up development solutions and education projects has been encouraged. In raising better awareness of sanitation issues in the city, N’Zérékore has initiated activity zones throughout the city and has provided sanitation committees with incentives to improve conditions. Okayama has placed emphasis on education for sustainable development as well as on community learning centres and has established monitoring tools to measure the outcomes of those activities. Pécs has initiated a forum to serve as a platform for experts and stakeholders to further learning city development. Surabaya has promoted the ‘Helix Approach’, which includes the involvement of all stakeholders to ensure the efforts put into promoting learning opportunities prioritizes the interest of people. Suwon, a long-experienced learning city, has cultivated a citizen-led lifelong learning culture. The city has established open spaces around the city, which enable people to learn or teach others freely. Tunis has established reliable funding mechanisms for its learning city initiatives, and has launched a campaign against drugs across the city. Finally, Villa María has implemented a mobile library, and has turned disused railway carriages into cultural and learning spaces.

About the Award

The UNESCO Learning City Award was established as part of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities in 2015. It is an international biennium award, which is neither a designation nor a prize, but a recognition of exemplary progress made by cities in promoting inclusive education and lifelong learning in local communities. It also aims to publicly share good practice that can be used by cities around the world to develop sustainably through building learning cities. To be considered for the award, cities must be members of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities. The award is restricted to a maximum of six cities per UNESCO region and one city per country.

Contact: Michelle Diederichs, UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL)
Tel.: +49 (0) 40 44 80 41 45, Email: learningcities(at)unesco.org