Derry to host world's first Virtual Learning City Festival and cement status as UNESCO learning city

Derry is to host the world's first Virtual Learning City Festival, celebrating lifelong learning experiences across the city and district, on July 1 and 2.
Padraig CanavanPadraig Canavan
Padraig Canavan

The virtual event will mark the city's new status as a member of the UNESCO'S Global Network of Learning Cities.

Funded by North West Regional College and Ulster University, the Virtual Learning City Festival will offer a wide range of online learning experiences and activities. Events will take the form of online information sessions, live presentations, short films and live chats.

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Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Brian Tierney, said: "Fresh from the success of the Jazz Festival, once again Derry City and Strabane District Council is stepping up to take a creative approach to the delivery of events and experiences that will benefit and support local people at this time.

"Technology has a major role to play as we find innovative and creative ways to interact and learn, and the Virtual Learning Festival will provide a platform to celebrate learning in a digital age."

The event replaces the original Lifelong Learning Festival that had been due to take place in May. Whilst that event had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic the show will go on thanks to the efforts of the partner organisations involved.

"Lots of local groups and partner institutions had engaged with the original programme for the Lifelong Learning Festival. Now we have adapted their activities to offer a virtual version of this dynamic festival which can be just as informative and fun but delivered online.

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"I hope this new programme will offer local people the opportunity to participate and celebrate learning, in-keeping with our new approaches to working and learning from home."

Derry City and Strabane's status as a member of UNESCO's Learning Cities Network - sponsored by Derry City and Strabane District Council, North West Regional College and Ulster University - has already strengthened and further enhanced the city's capacity as a learning hub.

News this month that plans for a Graduate-Entry Medical School at Ulster University's Magee campus have been given the green light by the Executive Office will act as a further catalyst for developing learning and research opportunities in the city and region.

Encouraging citizens to participate, Chair of the Learning Cities Programme, Padraig Canavan, said: "Education is personally transformational and we want to ensure that everyone at all ages can benefit equally by embracing the UNESCO Learning Cities ethos.

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"While circumstances prevent us from delivering the original physical programme of events, we still want to raise awareness of the learning opportunities the City has to offer, so I encourage all learning providers to please be a part of the new virtual celebration. Let's make this global Learning City Festival an event that will encourage lifelong learning in all of us."

If you would like more information, please email: [email protected].