International experts address Learning Limerick seminar

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In attendance at King John's Castle for the international seminar hosted by Learning Limerick are, from left, Michelle Murphy, Derry-Strabane Learning City, Denis Barrett, Cork Learning City, Cllr James Collins, Mayor of Limerick City and County, Paul Curran, Dublin Learning City, and Eimear Brophy, Chair of Learning Limerick. Picture by Diarmuid Greene
In attendance at King John's Castle for the international seminar hosted by Learning Limerick are, from left, Michelle Murphy, Derry-Strabane Learning City, Denis Barrett, Cork Learning City, Cllr James Collins, Mayor of Limerick City and County, Paul Curran, Dublin Learning City, and Eimear Brophy, Chair of Learning Limerick. Picture by Diarmuid Greene

Experts in Lifelong Learning from Learning Cities in Ireland and around the world joined Limerick participants to explore how we can bridge the gap between urban and rural, young and old, returning to learning and welcoming communities.

The Learning Cities Regions seminar ‘Bridging the Gap’ was held in King John’s Castle as part of the ninth Limerick Lifelong Learning Festival.

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Cork, Derry, Dublin and Belfast Learning Cities all made presentations on widening access to lifelong learning; using the UNESCO themes of green and healthy learning, digital inclusion, learning for employability and intergenerational learning.

A variety of Limerick projects demonstrating best practice and innovation were also showcased, including the Digital Inclusion Strategy for Limerick, the ABC Start Right early years project, Limerick for Engineering and an initiative demonstrating both health and employability outcomes from Ballyhoura Development.

Roundtable discussions took place to allow attendees to share ideas.  International experts provided feedback and their own perspectives on the roundtable panel discussions; speakers from Espoo Learning City (Finland); the Drucker Institute, California, USA; and the former Director of the UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning.

Speaking at the seminar in King John’s Castle, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, Cllr James Collins said: “The recently formed Irish Network of Learning Cities is a significant development for our cities, in working together and in adopting the UNESCO Guidelines for building learning cities. Limerick is proud of its recognition in receiving the UNESCO Learning City Award 2017, and continues to build on this work through the Learning Limerick Strategic Plan 2018 – 2022.”

“This seminar programme looking at ‘Bridging the Gap’ in learning is very important for the goal of widening access lifelong learning, and for promoting learning in all its forms and the interest in lifelong learning across all groups in society.”

The seminar offered a wonderful opportunity to explore partnership initiatives, with Limerick and other learning cities continuing their work as part of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities.

In 2017, Limerick was selected as one of only 16 cities from around the globe to receive the UNESCO Learning City Award.

Chairperson of Learning Limerick, Eimear Brophy said, “The theme of today’s seminar ‘Bridging the Gap’ is a central theme for all UNESCO learning cities.  A Learning city-region cultivates all possibilities for lifelong learning, therefore enabling its citizens to adapt to the changes in society.  Learning Limerick clearly demonstrates that this learning is taking place in communities, colleges and the workplaces and is aligned to regional and national policy initiatives.”