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Building a learning city

How to build a learning city

Building a learning city is a collective and continuing journey. It requires a concrete action plan with strong political leadership and steadfast commitment; participation and involvement of all stakeholders; diverse celebratory events charged with enthusiasm and inspirations; easy accessibility and enjoyable experiences for all citizens; a proper monitoring and evaluation of progress; and sustainable and secure funding. You can find detailed instructions on these action tips in our Guidelines for Building Learning Cities.

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About the tutorials

The video tutorials aim to steer cities in the right direction in their efforts to build dynamic and sustainable learning cities and advance education and lifelong learning opportunities for all. By watching these tutorials, you could find out, in a nutshell, what a learning city is all about, and thus gain insight into why building a learning city is an important step towards sustainable development. In addition, you will also learn of the important elements in implementing the concept, and gain a grasp of the starting points and next steps, as well as benefitting from successful and practical real experiences from cities across the world.

Each module begins with an animated conceptual video, which is further enriched by clips based on the experience of members of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities. Sharing ideas between and among cities is one of the objectives of the network, which has informed this initiative.

The video tutorials are made to support policy-makers, stakeholders, urban planners and lifelong learning practitioners in building learning cities. They comprise one introductory video and six interesting and succinct animation clips based on the following themes.

This project is kindly supported by Think Visual and the Cork Learning City Lead Partners (Cork City Council, Cork Education and Training Board, Cork Institute of Technology and University College Cork).

How to build a learning city

Building a successful learning city takes teamwork and good planning. A strategic plan will help to clarify the goals and targets of the learning city initiative, focus on the most relevant aspects and develop corresponding activities. It will encourage different stakeholders to get involved and help secure sustainable funding. Good planning also calls for regularly reviewing and adapting the city’s targets.

This tutorial provides answers to the following questions:

  • What are the elements of a learning city plan?
  • Who should be involved in the planning process?
  • What are the challenges to planning and how can they be overcome?

How to involve stakeholders

Involving all stakeholders in the process of building a learning city is key to success. Individuals and organizations all bring something different to the table. Collectively, their know-how and resources will help to achieve learning cities’ vision to promote lifelong learning across the community. This tutorial will provide answers to the following questions:

  • Whom to involve in the process?
  • How to get stakeholders on board?
  • How to create a coordinated structure involving all stakeholders?
  • How to keep stakeholders engaged?

How to celebrate learning

Celebrations foster a positive attitude towards learning and encourage people to take part. Holding regular events and festivals will also get more partners on board that offer new opportunities that will help maintain the public’s interest and enthusiasm for learning. Celebrating learning in a festival atmosphere brings the whole city to life and encourages people to discover the lifelong learning opportunities that are all around them. This tutorial will address:

  • What celebratory events can be organized?
  • How to organize a celebratory event?
  • How to get the message spread in your city?

How to make learning accessible to everyone

To make learning accessible, learning cities promote learning in the formal education system, in family and communities, for and through the workplace, in public spaces and through digital technologies. Making learning accessible also involves addressing the learning needs of citizens as well as creating conditions that enable participation and ensure quality in learning. This tutorial will address:

  • What are the core elements to consider for ensuring accessible learning for all?
  • How do learning cities embrace opportunities for learning?
  • What are the potential barriers to make learning accessible and how can they be addressed? 

How to monitor and evaluate progress in building a learning city

A successful learning city develops and promotes a wide variety of opportunities and events to encourage the public to get involved in learning. In order to ensure those learning events and opportunities have real impact, it is essential to monitor and evaluate progress. This tutorial will address:

  • Why monitoring and evaluating is important?
  • How can monitoring and evaluation mechanisms be established?
  • How to share progress and celebrate success?

How to ensure sustainable funding

A successful learning city sees its literacy rates grow and its communities inspired to engage with education and learning. However, to provide a variety of learning opportunities that are accessible to citizens, mobilizing sufficient resources and funding is required. This tutorial will answer the following questions:

  • What resources do you need to turn your city into a learning city?
  • How to mobilize resources?
  • How to ensure funding is sustainable?

Special issues

Gender equality

The Education 2030 agenda recognizes that gender equality requires an approach that ‘ensures that girls and boys, women and men, not only gain access to and complete education cycles but are empowered equally in and through education.’ But gender equality in learning and education remains a challenge in many places around the world, with social norms, stereotypes and lack of understanding of gender equality concepts, which very often can hinder progress. Learning cities are key to advancing gender equality.

This tutorial provides answers to the following questions:

  • How to develop a joint understanding of gender equality in education and learning?
  • How to identify the challenges in the learning city?
  • How to engage relevant stakeholders?
  • How to build capacity and encourage inclusive programming?
  • How to strengthen education and learning policies?
  • How to conduct research and raise awareness?

Education for sustainable development

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) empowers people to change the way they think and work towards a sustainable future. Cities are key to promoting ESD through lifelong learning programs that impart new knowledge, skills and attitudes to learners of all ages and from all backgrounds.

This tutorial addresses why and how learning cities should promote ESD.

Remember: Building a learning city is a collective and continuing journey. It requires a concrete action plan with strong political leadership and steadfast commitment, a structured dialogue and consensus involving all stakeholders, diverse celebratory events charged with enthusiasm and inspiration, easy accessibility and enjoyable experiences for all citizens, proper monitoring and evaluation of progress, and sustainable and secure funding. You can find detailed instructions on these action tips in our Guidelines for Building Learning Cities and the complementary video tutorials.

Snapshots of learning cities’ responses to COVID-19
UIL
2021
UNESCO
0000378050
How cities are utilizing the power of non-formal and informal learning to respond to the COVID-19 crisis
UNESCO
August 2020
UNESCO
0000374148
Conference report: Inclusion, a principle for lifelong learning and sustainable cities
UIL
2019
UNESCO
0000372467