Manchester has been officially recognised as a UNESCO City of Lifelong Learning, celebrating the city’s commitment to making lifelong learning accessible to all. This recognition places Manchester within the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities, an international group of 356 cities dedicated to promoting lifelong learning and sharing best practices.

The city's inclusion in this network followed a rigorous application process, endorsed by the UK Commission for UNESCO and evaluated by a panel of experts. Manchester had to showcase its history of good practices and policy initiatives essential for becoming a learning city.

A defining characteristic of cities in this network is the robust connections formed within each city among education and skills providers, communities, employers, and the public sector. Manchester's application involved collaboration with over 150 organisations, highlighting the city's integrated approach to lifelong learning.

As a UNESCO City of Lifelong Learning, Manchester is dedicated to using resources across all sectors to promote inclusive and quality education for everyone, from basic to higher education. The city's partners will focus on revitalising learning opportunities within families, communities, and workplaces, ensuring a comprehensive approach to lifelong learning.

Councillor Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council, said:

“Manchester is one of the UK’s fastest growing cities, with strong population and economic growth.

“We’re a city that has transformed itself over the last several decades from a declining industrial northern city into a dynamic and diverse metropolis, that today attracts talent, investment and visitors from all over the world.  

“Nothing is more important to us than making sure our local residents can reap the benefits of this and take advantage of all the opportunities this brings, which is why we’re determined to do everything we can to promote inclusive and quality learning opportunities for residents of all ages across the city.

“Being part of an international network of cities across the globe who share our determination to make positive changes and improve levels of learning across our city, gives us a fantastic opportunity to make even more of a difference to them and to further improve outcomes across the board.”

Manchester is one of 64 new cities from 35 countries that have just joined the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities in recognition of their outstanding efforts to make lifelong learning a reality for all at local level.

Each new member city will now co-lead the #ImALifelongLearner campaign in their city to help mobilise learners from across the globe to show their passion for learning throughout life.  The campaign underlines that the #RightToEducation must apply to people of all ages.

James Bridge, Secretary-General of the United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO, said:

“We’re delighted to welcome Manchester to the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities. UNESCO Learning Cities put learning at the heart of their communities and are committed to use education and training to support residents whatever their life-stage.

“The Global Network of Learning Cities really is just that; a network of more than 350 cities in 76 countries whose members work collaboratively to share knowledge and develop programmes covering inclusion, education for sustainable development, entrepreneurship education, citizen education and lifelong learning for health and well-being.’

“Through developing life-long learning opportunities, the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities also contributes to the achievement of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the UN’s goal of building understanding between people and countries around the world.”