Mr Raúl Valdés Cotera
Mr Raúl Valdés Cotera

Programme Manager of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities
UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning


Mr Raúl Valdés is a Senior Programme Specialist at the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning and Programme Manager of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities. He holds an MBA and a PhD in Education.

For over twelve years, he has been working in international organisations in the field of lifelong learning and adult learning and education. He has led various research and advocacy projects such as the Conceptual Evolution and Policy Developments in Lifelong Learning (editor, with J. Yang, 2011), the Glossary for Adult Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (2013), The Public Policy Analysis in Basic Education for Youth and Adults. A Comparative Case between Mexico and Brazil (2013) and Unlocking the Potential of Urban Communities: Case Studies of Twelve Learning Cities (editor, with N. Longworth and others).

At the Lifelong Learning Conference, he will be presenting “Inclusion – A Principle for Lifelong Learning,” where he will be exploring key concepts related to inclusive learning and also, identify some of the cross-cutting issues confronting vulnerable groups. By presenting the contextual factors shaping learning cities and communities, he will also be discussing the opportunities and challenges of developing inclusive programming for vulnerable groups, in particular youths-at-risk, migrants, digitally-excluded populations and persons with disabilities, and offer some possible directions to work on the situation.

1. How can community-developed or community-led learning drive the future of learning?

Cities around the world are facing acute challenges in managing rapid urbanisation – from ensuring adequate housing and infrastructure to supporting the well-being of growing vulnerable populations that include migrants, youths-at-risk, digitally excluded populations and persons with disabilities, amongst others. These challenges need to be tackled across all parts of the city, including slums and deprived neighbourhoods, to prevent endemic inequality taking root.

The environmental impact of urban sprawl represents a considerable challenge for cities and rural areas alike. Access to high-calibre, resilient infrastructures and the provision of basic services for all urban and rural dwellers are key components of development objectives, as are local economic opportunities for the creation of decent jobs and social cohesion. Yet, in order to achieve this, learning opportunities in cities must be of high quality, be inclusive of the diverse backgrounds of all learners and be offered on a continuous basis throughout life. For this to happen, learning opportunities must extend to all.

2. What are the key messages that you hope that the audience will take away from your session?

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