Professor Yashaen Luckan of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies together with UKZN alumnus and Programme Manager at eThekwini’s Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE) Dr Collin Pillay won a UNESCO Learning City Award for Durban.
The UNESCO Learning City Award recognises and showcases good practices in promoting quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all at the local level. This triennial award is presented to cities in each of the five UNESCO regions that have demonstrated significant progress in learning city development by implementing the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities guiding documents.
Collaborative efforts between the School and MILE led to the submission of the UNESCO bid that was supported by the Mayor of Durban Mr Mxolisi Kaunda and the Dean and Head of the School Professor Ernest Khalema.
‘This is a great opportunity for Durban to strategise locally and connect globally with other learning cities and co-create knowledge on lifelong learning! Durban is well positioned, and this UNESCO recognition will potentially facilitate institutional partnerships and collaborations for lifelong learning,’ said Khalema.
Luckan said he was thrilled his initial concept note catalysed the immense collaborative effort by the School and the City, with a huge input from Pillay.
Luckan’s concept note emphasised the need for engaged scholarship in the form of an inclusive learning paradigm through the decentralisation/ deconstruction of the traditional learning space, whereby the entire city and surrounding communities become the sites of deep situated learning and knowledge production.
‘Heterogeneity, lifelong and life-wide learning, and situated socio-spatial learning experience are some of the concepts toward promulgating an alternative, collaborative learning environment within the city and surrounding communities, with the aim of realising social and spatial justice. Situated knowledge production is an inspiring prospect through the award,’ said Luckan.
Pillay also noted that in positioning Durban as a learning city, the award was both timely and opportunistic as the city now joins a network of over 290 cities in 76 countries on the global network. ‘The mandate of MILE aligns well with the activities of UNESCO’s GNLC that aim to support and accelerate the practice of lifelong learning, promote policy dialogue, facilitate city to city learning and strengthen collaboration among member cities,’ he said.
Pillay, who will serve as the protagonist for the city of Durban’s interaction with the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC), says he is committed to working with all dedicated stakeholders in crafting and activating a common agenda for lifelong learning in Durban.
‘The School is also optimally positioned and looking forward to meaningfully contributing to the various initiatives concomitant with the award,’ added Luckan.