Derry and Strabane celebrates Learning Cities status with special festival

22 January 2020

Derry and Strabane celebrates Learning Cities status with special festival
Derry and Strabane celebrates Learning Cities status with special festival

Derry and Strabane’s success in becoming a member of UNESCO’s Global Network of Learning Cities was formally announced this week accompanied by the launch of a new festival dedicated to celebrating learning across Derry and Strabane.

The event will take place from May 18-24, and will be delivered by Council as part of the Learning City Programme, funded by Ulster University, North West Regional College and Derry City and Strabane District Council. promoting lifelong learning to all citizens, across all sectors, communities and ages.

The Lifelong Learning Festival aims to make learning accessible to everyone and offers an opportunity to showcase the wide variety of learning activities and events taking place across the city and region.

As part of the celebration, Council is inviting community groups, individuals, workplaces, schools and colleges to host their own learning event during the course of the festival. The event or activity must be free and open to all citizens and can take the form of performances, taster sessions, tours, displays, lectures, walks, demonstrations and workshops - as long as there is an element of learning attached to the event.

The event can focus on any subject ranging from digital skills, parenting, children’s activities, family events, business, science, art, history, health or sport. Your event can take place indoors or outdoors, including on water, in libraries, museums, colleges, resource centres, community centres, parks or in your street.

Speaking ahead of the launch Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Michaela Boyle, said the Learning City status highlighted Derry and Strabane’s growing profile as an education hub. “It’s a real testament to the work of all our educational institutions that we have been included in UNESCO’s Global Network of Learning Cities,” she said.

“The Statement of Progress for the Strategic Growth Plan provides clear evidence of our success in terms of learning showing that we are performing well in comparison to the other ten Council areas. Derry and Strabane has the highest ever percentage of school leavers achieving 5+ GCSEs A*-C and a higher percentage of school leavers achieving 2+ A-levels than the NI average. The report also documents the improvement in vocational training and skills pathways.

“We want the Derry City and Strabane Lifelong Learning Festival to offer learning for everyone, wherever you live, whatever your age and whatever your interests. We want there to be something for everyone.”

Provost of Ulster University’s Magee Campus Malachy Ó Néill said: “At Ulster, our students and the student experience are at the heart of everything we do and we are delighted to support a festival that celebrates the availability of learning for all here in the North West. Becoming part of the UNESCO Learning Cities Network will allow us to strengthen and further enhance the city’s capacity as a learning hub. Through events such as the Learning Cities Festival we will continue to build on the region’s growing profile as a centre for learning excellence.”

Leo Murphy, Principal and CEO of North West Regional College, said: “Our aim at NWRC is to enrich lives through learning and to empower students with the skills and education they need to realise their own individual ambitions.

“We are delighted to be a key partner in the Learning Cities programme, and believe that learning should be open and accessible to all.  I hope to see lots of local organisations and groups take the opportunity to be part of the Festival and to reinforce the message that the North West is an exciting and progressive place to learn.”

Chair of the Learning Cities Programme, Padraig Canavan, said: “Education is personally transformational and we wish to ensure that everyone at all ages can benefit equally by embracing the UNESCO Learning Cities ethos.  The Learning Festival is our first celebration to raise awareness of the learning opportunities the City has to offer, so I encourage all leaning providers to please be a part of it.”


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