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GNLC Awardee: Osan


In 2021, the city of Osan received the UNESCO Learning City Award for outstanding progress in providing lifelong learning opportunities for its more than 240,000 citizens. 
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Inducted into the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities in 2016, Osan’s history goes back 1,500 years. With a citizenry that truly cherishes its city, art and culture flourish, and the city serves as a campus for its inhabitants. Osan is the perfect example of how exceptional commitment to a holistic vision of lifelong learning can benefit society as a whole.
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Osan pursues a vision of establishing a '100-Year Learning City where Citizens and Learning are United'.

Young and old benefit from learning opportunities with a focus on health and well-being, entrepreneurship, equity and inclusion, literacy, global citizenship, and sustainable development.

Osan’s strategy serves as an example for many other cities in UNESCO GNLC – and its focus on learning for health and well-being greatly helped the city during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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'Hello, UNESCO GNLC member cities. I’m Sangwook Kwak, Mayor of Osan. Osan City conducted K quarantine with civic activists and citizens so no deaths of serious patients occurred during the pandemic. Thank God.

Although it was a difficult environment called COVID-19, we are overcoming COVID-19 through the spread of mask sharing projects and civic garden culture with the power of lifelong learning.

In the future, Osan City will continue to build a healthy green learning city for example with the urban farmer school and garden culture.'
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Osan's ‘Stepping Stone’ initiative is at the heart of its lifelong learning strategy: offices, churches and university spaces are used off-hours to provide citizens with venues for learning activities that are no more than a 10-minute walk from their homes.

Pre-COVID-19, 41,824 learners per year benefited from this initiative, participating in lifelong learning programmes held in 216 locations across the city.

Through cooperation between the private sector, government, industry and academia, Osan has been able to provide learning spaces closely linked to citizens’ daily lives.

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'I am Jin-gyu Park, an instructor in the Osan Lifelong Education and Learning Program, a world-class educational city recognized by UNESCO. I believe  that lifelong learning should be accompanied by practice. As an instructor, I will do my best to become a person who practices with our citizens.'
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Osan supports citizens’ learning by planning and operating online and offline platforms and programmes that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, throughout their lives.

For example, Osan’s offline learning platform, the 100-Year Citizens’ University, offers programmes that are accessible to all, with a specific focus on civic activists, the elderly and marginalized groups. The city’s education portal further provides an online learning platform that links learning, people and places.

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'After more than 10 years of my career break, I took the lifelong educator training nurturing course in Osan. Through that process, I learned lifelong learning education and worked as an activist. Through instructor capacity-building education, I was able to fill the shortcomings. Thanks to that, I am playing a role confidently as an activist.'
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To encourage lifelong learning, Osan has created a culture of learning through festivals and forums that encourage communication. A variety of festivals is held throughout the year, including the representative Doksanseong Fortress Cultural Festival, which celebrates the historical Doksanseong Fortress, a treasured local site with a 1,500-year history.
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Osan Learning City (in Korean)
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The UNESCO Learning City Award was established to further promote lifelong learning for all and showcase good practices in building learning cities. It is conferred on cities that have achieved outstanding progress in this regard. All awardee cities have demonstrated best practices that lay the foundation for sustainable development.
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The UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC) supports and improves the practice of lifelong learning in member cities by promoting policy dialogue and peer learning, documenting effective strategies and good practice, fostering partnerships, providing capacity development, and developing tools and instruments to design, implement and monitor learning cities strategies.

UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities

Credits: © Getty Images / Sanga Park; City of Osan; RyanKing999; cavanimages

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