Derry City & Strabane - Council joins partners for launch of Learning Island programme




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Council joins partners for launch of Learning Island programme

12 December 2022

Delegates from the five UNESCO affiliated Irish Network Learning Cities met in Cork last week for the opening event of the 'Learning Island' programme.

Derry and Strabane is working closely with its partners in Cork, Dublin, Belfast, and Limerick to enhance learning experiences right across the island of Ireland. The programme aims to strengthen and deepen the relationship between the five cities by extending exchange opportunities to education leaders, tutors and learners in Further Education, Community Education and Adult Literacy services in the five Learning City areas.

This programme will build on a platform of co-operation between the cities stemming from the Memorandum of Understanding on Learning Cities signed in 2019 by the Mayors and Lord Mayors of all five cities, re-signed in 2022 for a further five years.

Business leaders, educationalists and community leaders all came together for the official programme launch to hear more about the next steps in the cross-border approach to education and learning.

Welcoming the Learning Island Programme, Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Sandra Duffy, said: "The programme will further strengthen ties between the five learning cities and the ongoing sharing of experience and learning between education partners. Learning provides a valuable tool to help tackle inequality and to strengthen communities, and that is particularly important in areas such as the North West where we face a huge challenge in overcoming social deprivation and unemployment.

"We want to equip people with the skills and opportunities afforded in a society where learning and education offer a gateway to employment and economic stability. I look forward to working with our Learning City partners to develop projects and programmes that will help us support and empower local people."

The overall objective of the programme is to establish the feasibility of five medium term partnerships between organisations in Cork and Derry-Strabane, and between Cork and Belfast, Limerick and Dublin.

The programme will involve a number of exchange visits in the participating areas, which will promote Social Inclusion; Economic and Cultural Prosperity; Health and Wellbeing, and Sustainable Development.

Learning Cities co-ordinator with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Michele Murphy, explained more. "The city to city partnerships will involve active learning centres and organisations in each city, who will work closely with the Learning City co-ordinator in their respective cities and through a series of five exchanges over 12 months. A programme of five City exchange visits will be hosted by each of the Learning City members of the Irish Network. The visits will showcase the work of good practice organisations in each city that implement lifelong learning strategies promoting personal, social, civic, environmental and economic improvement. Key areas include job creation, entrepreneurship, youth development, inclusive learning and green and healthy learning and living environments."

Over the course of these visits appropriate matches between individual organisations and learning centres will be explored, and partners will be supported and encouraged to develop their own project proposals for a further three to five-year term.

Find out more about the Learning Cities initiative at