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Three Cities from Colombia join UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities

Three Cities from Colombia join UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities
Three cities from Colombia have joined the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC), along with 52 other cities from 27 countries. 

The cities of Quibdó, Rionegro and Tunja have been recognised as outstanding examples of how lifelong learning can become a reality at local level. They have proven that effective lifelong learning policies and practices can support the development of inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and contribute to the 2030 Agenda. Today’s new members bring the total number of cities within the UNESCO GNLC to 230 in 64 countries.

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), as coordinator of the network, admitted the new members following their nomination by the National Commissions for UNESCO in the concerned countries. A strong commitment to lifelong learning by the mayor and city administration is a key prerequisite for becoming a learning city. As part of their application process, potential UNESCO GNLC members must demonstrate a clear vision for providing lifelong learning opportunities for everyone in the community. Once admitted, cities are expected to take part in the activities of the network and to produce a biennial report outlining their achievements as learning cities. The new member cities will be presented in an online event on 23 September 2020. 

One of the most recognized programmes in the Quibdó development plan is Educated Quibdó. Its objectives are: to develop activities aimed at improving the quality, coverage and strengthening of initial, preschool, basic and secondary education; to promote the comprehensive development of children and adolescents; to encourage higher education.

Martin Sanchez, the Mayor of Quibdó said, “The adoption of the concept of a learning city would allow Quibdó to face the many challenges in a sustainable manner. This membership would represent a great step forward for the citizens who would more precisely develop all the knowledge and skills necessary to become actively involved in the process. Furthermore, being part of the network would provide us with a valuable opportunity to exchange good practices with cities with common interests."

Rionegro has focused on strengthening its citizens in all phases of development, starting with the first years of life with comprehensive programs and promoting educational processes, both in academic institutions and in sports, and cultural institutions. By 2025, the municipality of Rionegro envisions to be a globalised, sustainable, mobile, secure, productive and competitive city; with a happy, educated, healthy population; and an efficient government which is transparent and equitable.

Rodrigo Hernández Álzate, the Mayor of Rionegro said “The municipality of Rionegro is projected as a city of family, welfare and inclusion. A green, friendly, sustainable, and competitive city and a regional integration pole. Learning is a fundamental pillar in our municipality, sustainable development and the vision of an inclusive and happy city are the result of lifelong learning processes.”

Tunja aims to be the most educated city in Colombia, by implementing a comprehensive training approach that enhances capabilities, promotes innovation and competitiveness, and sustainability in the country and the planet. The city has developed new forms of cooperation with universities and the private sector to allow the generation of new knowledge and the dissemination of a scientific culture that acts as business incubators, spin-off development and start-ups and enable technology and innovation transfer.

Luis Alejandro Funeme Gonzalez, the Mayor of Tunja said, “Knowledge is the engine that allows us to have a better city.  Building a learning city means that new generations are formed from the Capital, it means opening doors and providing tools for management and growth. We recognize that there are important challenges to be met, and so it is time to allow ourselves to be UNITED by a feeling of wanting to improve our city, and to serve with responsibility for the people and to the people.”

UIL Director David Atchoarena explains: “With unprecedented urgency, the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the necessity to build more resilient education systems for the future. With more than half of humanity living in urban areas, cities must be at the centre of this undertaking.” 

“During the pandemic, UNESCO learning cities from around the world have shown that they are well placed to make lifelong learning a reality, also under harsh conditions,’ Mr Atchoarena continues. ‘I warmly welcome the cities of Quibdó, Rionegro and Tunja along with the further new members of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities and very much look forward to working with them on further advancing our goal of ensuring lifelong learning for all.”


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