National technical workshop for lifelong learning strategies in Egyptian cities
Cities in Egypt face global challenges such as rapid urbanization, climate change, economic slowdown and inequality. Integrated lifelong learning strategies and practices at local level are vital in addressing these challenges and building economic, social and environmental resilience in cities.
Four Egyptian members of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC), namely Aswan, Giza, Damietta and Fayoum, are already working towards sustainable development through lifelong learning and several others have expressed interest in adopting the concept of lifelong learning and become a learning city.
To enhance local capacities for embedding lifelong learning practices through the development of a comprehensive city strategy and action plan that responds to learner and community needs, the UNESCO Regional Office for Science in the Arab States, together with the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) and the Ministry of Local Development, and with the support of Aswan city, organized a hybrid national technical workshop from 3–5 October 2022.
Fifty representatives from 17 governorates in Egypt participated (online and in person) in the workshop, among them five mayors and six deputy mayors. In his opening remarks, the Minister of Local Development, Mr Hesham Amna, said that education and lifelong learning were the cornerstones of socio-economic development and citizens’ empowerment and, thus, were key for achieving the national Egypt Vision 2030 agenda. He emphasized the importance of the workshop in providing an opportunity for Egyptian cities to adopt the concept of lifelong learning and join the UNESCO GNLC.
Through a series of training activities, the cities’ representatives worked collaboratively in groups to map their cities’ characteristics and challenges and to determine appropriate lifelong learning priorities to overcome them. The groups set strategic lifelong learning objectives, goals and targets for their cities and identified the resources required for achieving them. In addition, they proposed monitoring mechanisms to keep track of the progress made in advancing lifelong learning. The workshop dedicated a special session to community learning centres to highlight their potential role, in the Egyptian context, in establishing lifelong learning culture in the cities through enhancing access and provision of learning to all, in particular to disadvantaged groups, including women.
The outcomes of the group work shaped a forward-looking strategic document, which will be used as a basis for follow-up activities. UIL, together with UNESCO’s Cairo Office, will continue providing technical support to six Egyptian governorates (El Wadi El Gedid, Assuit, Luxor, Gharbia, Port Said and Ismailia) that have expressed interest in joining the network to develop local gender-responsive lifelong learning strategies and action plans. Establishing community learning centres (CLCs) to promote lifelong learning for all was also identified by the groups as one of the main activities to be included in their action plans. This is in alignment with Egypt’s national plan to promote lifelong learning and the current efforts of the Ministry for Social Development, with the support of UNESCO’s Cairo Office, to establish CLCs in 52 districts as a part of the national Decent Life initiative for the most disadvantaged groups. The piloting of CLCs will commence in three of existing learning cities: Aswan, Giza and Damietta.