building of a learning region/area is one of the operational approaches which have been adopted in the international community to promote lifelong learning for all. Given the rapid pace of urbanisation, cities are shouldering increasing responsibilities for policy-making and provision of lifelong learning opportunities. A global network of learning cities would provide technical support to many cities, and promote policy dialogue and peer-learning among them, as well as capacity development. During its 7th Session, in May 2012, the Governing Board of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) approved the plan for UIL to establish the UNESCO Global Learning Cities Network (UNESCO-GLCN). This initiative received good support from the informal consultative meeting on UNESCO-GLCN held on 25 May on the occasion of the UIL 60th anniversary (see article), and from the recent ASEM Lifelong Learning Forum held in Copenhagen at the end of May 2012 (see article).
An important task in the preparation phase of this network is to develop the UNESCO Global Learning City Index – a set of key indicators for monitoring and assessing global learning cities. To this end, UIL held a workshop on developing a framework for the UNESCO Global Learning City Index from 3 to 5 July 2012 at its premises. Experts representing some founding partners of the UNESCO-GLCN, including the PASCAL Observatory, Bertelsmann Foundation, CISCO Systems, Beijing Municipal Education Commission, Kuwait University and the Cape Higher Education Consortium, participated in the workshop.
Through intensive group work and plenary discussions, the workshop identified indicators in the following three areas: (1) The wider benefits of building a learning city that covers individual empowerment and social cohesion; cultural and economic prosperity; and sustainable development. (2) Major building blocks of a learning city that covers inclusive learning from basic to higher education; revitalised community learning; effective learning for and in the workplace; extended use of modern learning technologies; enhanced quality and excellence in learning; and a vibrant culture of learning throughout life. (3) Fundamental conditions for building a learning city that covers vision, political will and commitment; governance and participation of all stakeholders; and mobilisation and utilisation of resources and potentials.
The outcomes of the workshop will be elaborated further in the 1st meeting of the International Consultative Committee for Establishing the UNESCO-GLCN, to be organised in Beijing in the autumn of 2012.