The Rise and Fall and Rise Again of Learning Cities
The term ‘Learning Region’ is commonplace in the lifelong learning debate. This is logical as they have been a key plank of EC policy – they are the places where lifelong learning is implemented. The EC definition is ‘A city, town or region which recognises and understands the key role of learning in the development of prosperity, stability and personal fulfillment, and mobilises all its resources creatively to develop the full human potential of all its citizens’. These resources include both people and organisations – VET, HEIs, SMEs, local authorities, schools and adult education and non-formal/informal education providers, all key stakeholders in a learning region. Limerick Declaration identified economic, social and environmental indicators distinguishing learning cities and regions. Germany is covered by more than 64 learning regions, UK and Finnish national learning city networks boast 100+ members, and the EC has itself supported projects and programmes to create learning regions, notably the R3L programme, TELS, LILLIPUT, INDICATORS, PALLACE, LILARA, PENR3L and others. All this effort has produced data, tools, indicators, reports, videos, projects, recommendations, plans, strategies and learning materials – a wealth of potentially valuable knowledge for EU regions that urgently needs to be brought together in one place and made available to them. There is a clear qualitative difference in a learning region, and yet research shows that in many places there is little awareness or action. In EUROlocal, PENR3L, a network created by an EC project to spread the learning region message, is leading other networks in gathering together a panoply of European knowledge and practice in this area from sources across all sectors and countries, testing existing tools, finding good practice, dynamically organising it in an interactive website, producing learning materials and actively disseminating and exploit it to effect a transformation of Europe’s regions. This chapter provides an overview and analysis of the current state of play across Europe of learning city/region development and the success of this aspect of bringing learning closer to home.
KeywordsEuropean Commission Lifelong Learning European City Sustainable Economic Growth Learning Region
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