UNESCO Learning City Award for Swansea Bay City Region

Swansea has been recognised by UNESCO for its efforts to promote learning, alongside cities such as Beijing and Mexico City.

Swansea Bay City Region’s case study was highlighted in the UNESCO publication, “Unlocking the Potential of Urban Communities”, at a recent international conference, attended by 600 city leaders from 120 countries.   

UNESCO Lifelong Learning logo‌Swansea Bay was given a UNESCO award, and was one of only 12 UNESCO Learning Cities worldwide, and the only UNESCO Learning City in the UK, to feature in the report.

The conference, which took place in Mexico, marked the achievements of the UNESCO Global Learning City Network.  The aim is to support members in their efforts to foster a culture of lifelong learning, to help improve their cities.

‌‌Swansea Bay City Region’s work to become a Learning City is carried out by a partnership which includes Swansea University, University of Wales Trinity St David, City and County of Swansea, Neath Port Talbot Council, Carmarthenshire Council, Pembrokeshire Council, Gower College Swansea, Neath Port Talbot Colleges Group, Coleg Sir Gar, Pembrokeshire College and schools across the region.

600 x 348 Pictures: Young learners at a recent community open day for the Swansea University Bay Campus

The focus has been on encouraging entrepreneurial learning amongst all citizens, from pre-school to old age. An important feature of the region’s success has been the support from local entrepreneurs and companies, who have provided role models and sponsored activities.

Judith James of Swansea University, who leads the Learning Cities partnership in the region, explained:

“It’s about encouraging people to be curious and creative.  Spotting and responding to opportunities, taking risks, learning to negotiate: these are the skills that are becoming increasingly important for success, whether in leadership, starting and running an enterprise, or employment.”   

Swansea Council plays a central role in the Learning Cities work, as Cllr Clive Lloyd explains:

“I was proud and excited to accept this award, representing the City and County of Swansea. The case study is founded on the Council’s anti-poverty strategy and entrepreneurial learning will make a difference to the engagement and aspiration of learners. 

 This award recognises the hard work and celebrates the achievements of all our learners who are developing enterprising skills and attitudes and contributing to a better future for all the people living in Swansea Bay City Region.”

 Work that falls under the Learning City heading in Swansea Bay City Region includes:

  • Mini-Dragons and Young Business Dragons– developing entrepreneurial thinking in local school children, through competitions to encourage business ideas.
  • Entrepreneurship Academy – led by Gower College Swansea with support from local companies, the Academy supports young people to start their own business.
  • Swansea University Bay Campus – the new £450 million campus was cited in the UNESCO report as an example of entrepreneurial leadership.

‌Craigfelen Primary School provides a shining example by integrating learning about enterprise into all aspects of school life, with teachers reporting that this has motivated the children and also engaged the wider community.

Swansea at sunsetSir Terry Matthews, Chair of the Swansea Bay City Region, said:

“I feel sure that with initiatives under way, during the next ten years this area of South West Wales will become a more confident, ambitious and well-connected region, recognised internationally as a knowledge and innovation-based society.

As the UK UNESCO Learning City, we are developing a culture of entrepreneurship in our schools, colleges and universities. Learning to be enterprising and innovative is the main driver in our society for future prosperity!”

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

Read the UNESCO report:  “Unlocking the Potential of Urban Communities: case studies of twelve learning cities.”

The cities featured are:

  • Amman, Jordan
  • Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
  • Balanga, Philippines
  • Beijing, China
  • Cork, Ireland
  • Espoo, Finland
  • Melton, Australia
  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Namyangju, South Korea
  • Sorocaba, Brazil
  • Swansea, United Kingdom
  • Ybycui, Paraguay