HCMC, Son La chosen as UNESCO learning cities

By Minh Nga   February 16, 2024 | 01:23 am PT
HCMC, Son La chosen as UNESCO learning cities
Teachers and students of Dinh Tien Hoang Primary School in HCMC attend a ceremony to start the new school year, September 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Ho Chi Minh City and Son La in the north have become members of UNESCO's Global Network of Learning Cities, raising the number of members from Vietnam to five.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced on Wednesday a list of 64 cities from 35 countries recognized as members of the Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC) "in recognition of their outstanding efforts to make lifelong learning a reality for all at the local level."

On the list are HCMC, the largest city in Vietnam and is an important national economic and cultural hub, and Son La, the capital city of the northwestern Son La Province.

According to UNESCO, HCMC’s lifelong learning vision aims to cultivate an inclusive and modern educational environment supported by digital technologies.

In the medium term, the city seeks to ensure literacy and basic skills for all, promote digital learning and maintain effective community-based learning models.

Long-term goals include providing equal access to diverse, flexible educational systems and fostering digital and global learning citizens. Under the UNESCO GNLC framework, the city will focus on gaining international recognition, mobilizing resources to promote lifelong learning opportunities, and engaging in global knowledge exchanges.

Meanwhile, Son La aims to be a lifelong learning hub with a focus on increasing the quality of education, improving literacy and embracing digital technology. Medium to long-term goals include implementing community-based learning models and fostering public-private partnerships.

The city’s priorities as part of UNESCO GNLC include gaining international recognition and enhancing community health literacy. The city also seeks to be a leading educational center in Vietnam’s north-western region.

The UNESCO GNLC is an international network comprising cities that successfully promote lifelong learning across their communities.

Established in 2012, the GNLC selects its members based on an evaluation by independent experts according to 42 criteria in three categories: long-term benefits, key elements, and basic conditions for developing a learning city.

The new learning cities were added to the network on the recommendation of a jury of experts. A strong commitment to lifelong learning by the city administration and a track record of good practices and policy initiatives are key prerequisites for becoming a learning city. 

In 2020, Vietnam had its first two cities recognized: Sa Dec in Dong Thap Province and Vinh in Nghe An Province. In 2022, UNESCO added Cao Lanh of Dong Thap to this list.

Members share expertise, exchange ideas, knowledge, and experiences on building learning cities.

In the list announced Wednesday, besides the two representatives from Vietnam, the Asian region has nine other cities added to the list, which are Bangkok, Khon Kaen, Yala (Thailand), Legazpi (Philippines), Busan, Seogu, Hanam (South Korea), and Nanjing, Suzhou (China).

The list now has 356 members from 79 countries.

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