BEIJING – St. Maarten submitted an official request to UNESCO on August 31, 2016. On November 15, Philipsburg officially became the first and only country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands to be inducted as new members of the Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC) from UNESCO in Hangzhou, China.
Ruth Verbeek-Linger, acting Head of the Department of Education, and Caren Matthew, ICT Analyst from the Department of ICT, gave a presentation to more than 115 GNLC members. The presentation showcased the plans St. Maarten will utilize in order to try and change Philipsburg into a Learning City through the use of ICT.
St. Maarten received many compliments with regard to the presentation, which was created by Asha Roosberg and Diedra Sprott from the Department of Education. The other countries gave St. Maarten a warm welcome and informed that St. Maarten can count on the support of the other countries in order to accomplish their goals.
Other countries present for the Learning Cities conference were: Ethiopia, Nigeria, China, Iran, Korea, Denmark, Turkey, Greece, Ireland, Israël, Lithuania, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Argentina, Brazil and Honduras.
The UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities is an international policy-oriented network providing inspiration, know-how and best practice. Learning cities at all stages of development can benefit greatly from sharing ideas with other cities, as solutions for issues that arise, as one learning city developments may already exist in other cities.
The Network supports the achievement of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 4 (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all) and SDG 11 (Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable). The UNESCO GNLC supports and improves the practice of lifelong learning in the world’s cities by promoting policy dialogue and peer learning among member cities; forging links; fostering partnerships; providing capacity development; and developing instruments to encourage and recognize progress made in building learning cities.
There are various advantages St. Maarten will gain by becoming a member of the GNLC. GNLC members can, by becoming a Learning City member: Partner with the UNESCO Institute of Life Long Learning (UIL), Intergovernmental organizations Non-governmental organizations; Apply for CONFINTEA Scholarships; Apply for CONFINTEA Fellowships; Submit a request so that their researchers can visit UIL; and submit a request for Internships.
St. Maarten will now be able to enhance the educational system as well as create a widespread culture of learning amongst the public. The hope is that the people of St. Maarten will become more self-resilient, creative, critical thinkers and life-long learners.