Manchester Joins Prestigious UNESCO Learning Cities Network, Commits to Lifelong Learning for All

Photo by Mark Stuckey

Manchester has been officially recognised today as a UNESCO City of Lifelong Learning, in recognition of the city’s efforts to make lifelong learning a reality for all.
The recognition means Manchester joins an international network of 356 cities around the world – the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities – that each successfully promote lifelong learning across their communities and share inspiration, know-how and best practice with each other.

Manchester was added to the network following a rigorous application process, including a nomination from the UK Commission for UNESCO and the recommendations of a jury of experts.

Throughout the application, Manchester had to demonstrate a track record of good practices and policy initiatives, which are key prerequisites for becoming a learning city.

Another key feature of all cities in the international network is the number and strength of connections forged within each city between education and skills, communities, employers and the public sector – connecting education, training and cultural institutions, and engaging a wide range of partners, including schools, colleges, universities and the wider skills sector, as well as employers and other organisations.

In Manchester the city’s lifelong learning application to UNESCO was co-designed with 150+ organisations, with many more also contributing to the city’s lifelong learning approach.

As a UNESCO City of Lifelong Learning Manchester has committed to mobilising resources in every sector of the city to promote inclusive and quality learning for all and at all levels, from basic through to higher education.

As part of this partners across the city will also now be looking to revitalise learning opportunities within families and across communities, as well as facilitating learning opportunities within workplaces.

Councillor Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester is one of the UK’s fastest growing cities, with strong population and economic growth.

“We’re a city that has transformed itself over the last several decades from a declining industrial northern city into a dynamic and diverse metropolis, that today attracts talent, investment and visitors from all over the world.

“Nothing is more important to us than making sure our local residents can reap the benefits of this and take advantage of all the opportunities this brings, which is why we’re determined to do everything we can to promote inclusive and quality learning opportunities for residents of all ages across the city.

“Being part of an international network of cities across the globe who share our determination to make positive changes and improve levels of learning across our city, gives us a fantastic opportunity to make even more of a difference to them and to further improve outcomes across the board.”
Manchester is one of 64 new cities from 35 countries that have just joined the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities in recognition of their outstanding efforts to make lifelong learning a reality for all at local level.

The new cities were announced today (14 February) by UNESCO.

Each new member city will now co-lead the #ImALifelongLearner campaign in their city to help mobilise learners from across the globe to show their passion for learning throughout life.  The campaign underlines that the #RightToEducation must apply to people of all ages.

James Bridge, Secretary-General of the United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO, said:  “We’re delighted to welcome Manchester to the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities. UNESCO Learning Cities put learning at the heart of their communities and are committed to use education and training to support residents whatever their life-stage.

“The Global Network of Learning Cities really is just that; a network of more than 350 cities in 76 countries whose members work collaboratively to share knowledge and develop programmes covering inclusion, education for sustainable development, entrepreneurship education, citizen education and lifelong learning for health and well-being.’

“Through developing life-long learning opportunities, the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities also contributes to the achievement of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the UN’s goal of building understanding between people and countries around the world.”

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