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Seeking Common Actions in a Period of Crisis in Greece: 2nd Larissa International Learning City Conference
‘Seeking Common Actions in a Period of Crisis’ was the title of the 2nd Larissa International Learning City Conference held on 14 and 15 October 2016. Three hundred participants representing ten cities in Greece and Europe came together to discuss and share innovative ways of using educational and social interventions at local and national levels to improve livelihoods and uphold the quality of life for people in times of financial crises. Larissa is one of the first cities in Greece to join the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC) and has been instrumental in bringing cities in Greece and Europe together to share experiences and exchange synergies.
Among the cities in attendance were Cork (Ireland), Swansea (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) as well as the Greek cities of Lesbos, Trikala and Serres, all of which are members of GNLC. Athens and Thessaloniki were also represented at the meeting, joining in the discussions to share best practices on building learning cities and implementing lifelong learning programmes successfully.
The host city, Larissa, explained how it collaborates with local institutions to identify and address the learning needs of around 2,500 disadvantaged families. This includes supporting out-of-school children in following alternative pathways, such as enabling their attendance at adult education classes for language skills or at other types of extracurricular activities. Another example of Larissa’s engagement is the ‘City-Camping’ initiative, in which more than 600 children took part in educational activities such as study visits to theatres, museums, pastry courses and chess championships.
In addition to sharing knowledge and experiences, participants discussed the role that education, in particular adult education, can play in reaching Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Representing the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), Mr Konstantinos Pagratis shared insights from the Education 2030 Framework for Action and the recently published third Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE III). He highlighted the benefits that adult learning and education can have on health and well-being, employment and the labour market, and social, civic and community engagement.
This conference provided a platform for city and municipal authorities and related stakeholders to establish lifelong learning strategies collectively and to link those strategies to local and national development agendas.
Third Global Report on Adult Learning and Education: The Impact of Adult Learning and Education on Health and Well-Being; Employment and the Labour Market; and Social, Civic and Community Life. UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, 2016. ISBN 978-92-820-1213-0. Available for download and from the UIL library.