Currently, Thailand has seven cities participating in developing learning cities in conjunction with UNESCO (UNESCO GNLC). The seven member cities include Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Phayao, Sukhothai, Chachoengsao, Hat Yai, and Phuket. In Australia, there are 4 UNESCO member cities including Wyndham, Canning, Melton, and Circular Head. The Asia-Pacific region’s convenient proximity allows Thailand and Australia to easily share their developmental experiences in support of the “Learning City” initiative and to develop learning cities that strive for equity and lifelong learning space for everyone.
On October 4, 2023, the University of Phayao, in collaboration with Adult Learning Australia (ALA), the Australian Learning Communities Network (ALCN), and the UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning, organized a webinar to exchange knowledge between the learning cities of Thailand and Australia. Mr. Raúl Valdés, the Coordinator of UNESCO Learning Cities, also participated in this discussion.
The discussion results highlighted the importance of lifelong learning in addressing community and environmental issues, aligning with three of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals including goal 4 quality education, goal 11 sustainable cities and communities, and goal 13 climate action. The trend involves universities taking a leading role in developing learning cities in partnership with local administrative organizations. In 2024, UNESCO will focus on creating a mentoring system for developing learning cities and inviting universities to contribute through research. The goal is to strengthen the connection of regional learning networks. Currently, the University of Phayao drives the Learning City initiative through the City Unit with support from the Fund for Educational Equity and the Spatial Development Fund Management Unit. They also serve as mentors for the four newcoming learning cities of Lamphun, Udon Thani, Trang, and Yala.