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Charter of Educating Cities
The cities that were represented at the
1st International Congress of Educating Cities, held in Barcelona
in 1990, set forth in the initial Charter the basic
principles that were to constitute the educational driving
force of the city, theirs was the conviction that the edification
of their inhabitants could not be left to chance. The Charter
was revised at the 3rd International Congress (Bologna, 1994)
and at the 8th International Congress (Genoa, 2004), in order to improve and adapt its concepts
to the new challenges and social needs we face.
This Charter is based on the Universal
Declaration on Human Rights (1948); the International Covenant
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966); the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989); the World
Declaration on Education For All (1990), and the
Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001).
Today more than ever the city, large or small, offers countless
opportunities for education. However, the city can also be
influenced by educating forces used in a negative way. In
one way or another the city contains within itself major elements
for integral education and training that makes it at one and
the same time a complex system, object of educational attention
and a permanent, plural, multi-faceted, educating agent capable
of counteracting inimical educating elements.
The educating city is a city with its own personality, forming
an integral part of its nation. Therefore, its identity is
interdependent with that of the country it belongs to. The
educating city is not self-contained; it has an active relationship
with its environment, with the other urban centres in the
nation and with cities in other countries. The goal of this
relationship is to learn, exchange and share experiences and
thus enrich the lives of the inhabitants.
The educating city must undertake and develop this function
while undertaking its traditional functions (economic, social,
political and as a purveyor of services) with its sights squarely
on the education, promotion and development of all its inhabitants.The
educating city will give priority to children and youth, but
with a commitment to including persons of all ages in lifelong
The reasons which justify this function are social, economic and
political; orientated especially to an efficient, coexistence-based
cultural and educational project. These are the great challenges
of the 21st century: firstly, "investing" in education, in
each individual, to increase his or her ability to express,
affirm and develop his or her own human potential, with its
uniqueness, creativity and responsibility. Secondly, promoting
the conditions for full equality so that everyone can feel
respected and can be respect of others, capable of entering
into dialogue with others. And, thirdly, unifying all these
factors so that we can create, city by city, a true knowledge
society that does not exclude anyone, for which we will have
to provide, amongst other things, easy access for all the
population to the information and communications technologies
that can allow everyone to achieve their potential.
Educating cities, with their formal educational institutions,
non-formal interventions (for educative purposes external
to the formal education system) and informal interventions
(neither intentional nor planned) will collaborate either
bilaterally or multilaterally in the exchange of experiences.
In the spirit of cooperation, educating cities will aid each
other in supporting study and investment projects, either
in the form of direct cooperation or in collaboration with
Humanity is not only living through a stage of changes,
but also an authentic change in stages. Persons must educate
themselves for the sake of their critical adaptation to and
active participation in the challenges and possibilities opening
up as a result of the globalisation of all economic and social
processes, so that they can intervene, through their local
world, in a complex international scenario, and in order to
remain autonomous subjects in the face of a flood of information
controlled by economic and political power centres.
On the other hand, children and young people are no longer
passive subjects in the life of their society, and, therefore,
their city. The United Nations Convention of November 20,
1989, which further developed and considered binding the principles
of the Universal Declaration of 1959, made children citizens
with full civic and political rights. Thus, they can enjoy
the rights of association and participation that are suitable
to their level of maturity.
The protection of children and youth in our cities no longer
consists merely of protecting them as such. It is also important
to find them a proper place next to adults who have the civic
virtue of finding satisfaction in inter-generational coexistence.
At the beginning of the 21st century, all generations are
clearly more and more in need of life-long learning opportunities
that are constantly being updated.
Global citizenship is now in the making even though we still
lack a global democratic structure, even though many countries
still have not been able to attain and constitute a democracy
that is effective while being respectful of their genuine
social and cultural patterns and where democracies with a
longer standing democratic tradition can feel satisfied with
the quality of their democratic systems. In this context,
cities in all countries must act, in their local dimension,
as platforms for experimentation and consolidation of a democratic
citizenry, as promoters of peaceful coexistence through ethical
and civic values education, respectful of the manifold nature
of the possible different forms of government while acting
as the drivers of widely representative, participatory mechanisms.
Diversity is inherent in the modern city and the feeling
is that it will increase even more in the future. Accordingly,
one of the challenges facing the educating city is to foster
a balance and harmony between identity and diversity, taking
into account the contributions of the communities of which
the city is comprised and the right of all those living in
the city to feel that their own cultural identity is being
We live in a world of uncertainty that is giving ground
to a quest for security, which is often expressed as the negation
of the other and as mutual mistrust. The educating city is
aware of this and does not seek simple unilateral solutions:
it accepts this contradiction and puts forward processes of
knowledge, dialogue and participation as the best way forward
of living and coping with uncertainty.
Therefore, the right to an educating city is hereby affirmed.
This right must be understood as an effective extension of
the fundamental right to education. There must be a true fusion,
in the phase of formal education and adulthood, of the resources
and educational power of the city with the ordinary development
of the educational, labour and social system.
The right to live in an educating city must constitute a
relevant guarantee of the principles of equality for all,
social justice, and territorial balance.
This emphasises the responsibility local governments in
the sense of developing all the educational potentialities
that the city has within itself, incorporating the principles
of the educating city into its political project.
I. THE RIGHT TO AN EDUCATING CITY
1. All the
inhabitants of a city have the right to enjoy, in liberty
and equality, the means and opportunities for education, leisure
and individual growth that the city offers. The right to an
educating city is understood as an extension of the fundamental
right of all to education. The educating city constantly recommits
to the lifelong education of its inhabitants in the most varied
ways. And to make this possible, all groups, with their own
particular needs, must be taken into account.
In city planning and government, suitable
measures will be taken to overcome every type of obstacle
that restricts the exercise of the right to equality, including
physical barriers. This will be the responsibility of both
the municipal government and other levels of government that
affect the city. The citizens themselves will also be committed
to this task on an individual basis as well as through the
various associations to which they belong.
2. The city will promote education
in diversity as well as understanding, international solidarity
and cooperation and world peace. This is an education that
fights against any form of discrimination. The educating city
will foster freedom of expression, cultural diversity and
dialogue in equal conditions. It will also avail itself of
both avant-garde initiatives and those of popular culture,
no matter what their origin. It will contribute to correcting
inequalities that arise from cultural production based solely
on mercantile criteria.
3. An educating
city will foster dialogue between generations, not only as
a form of peaceful coexistence, but also as a way to seeking
out common projects shared by groups of persons of different
ages. These projects should be orientated towards civic initiatives
and actions whose value consists precisely in their cross-generational
character and in the use of the respective skills and values
of the different age groups.
4. The municipal
policies of an educational character shall always be understood
as referring to a broader context inspired by the principles
of social justice, democratic community spirit, quality of
life and the edification of the individual citizen.
5. The municipalities
shall undertake to exercise their powers effectively in matters
of education. No matter what the scope of these powers may
be, they shall put forward a broad and integrated education
policy, in order to include all the modalities of formal,
non-formal and informal education and the different cultural
manifestations, sources of information and paths of discovery
of the reality of the city.
6. In order
to undertake appropriate action, the persons responsible for
municipal policy must obtain accurate information on the situation
and needs of the inhabitants. Thus, the city shall undertake
studies and surveys, which it shall keep up to date and make
available to the public and shall establish channels that
are constantly open to individuals and groups that allow the
formulation of specific proposals and general policies.
Furthermore, the municipality in the course of its decision-making
in any area of its jurisdiction shall bear in mind the educative
and training-related impact of the decisions made.
II. THE COMMITMENT OF THE CITY
7. The city
must know how to discover, preserve and display its own complex
identity. This will make it unique and provide the basis for
a fruitful dialogue with its inhabitants and with other cities.
Its customs and traditions must be compatible with international
ways of life. In this way it will be able to offer an appealing
image without spoiling its natural and social environment.
At the same time, the city shall promote the knowledge, learning
and use of the languages that are spoken therein and use them
as an integrating element and factor for social cohesion.
8. The transformation
and growth of a city must be governed by a harmony between
its new needs and the preservation of buildings and symbols
of its past and of its existence. City planning must consider
the enormous impact of the urban environment on the development
of all individuals, on the integration of their personal and
social aspirations, and resist the segregation of generations
and the segregation of people from different cultures, who
have much to learn from each other.
The organisation of the city's physical urban
space shall meet the requirements of accessibility, encounter,
relations, play and leisure as well as a greater closeness
to nature. The educating city shall pay special attention
to the needs of the handicapped, the elderly and children
in its town planning, facilities and services, in order to
guarantee them a city environment that is friendly as well
as respectful of the limitations that they may have, without
their having to renounce their maximum independence possible.
educating city shall encourage citizen participation from
a critical, co-responsible point of view. To do so, local
government must provide people with the information they need
and foster, from an integrated perspective, orientation, and
educational activities in ethical and civic values.
same time the educating city shall use its institutions and
civic and social organisations to stimulate citizen participation
in the collective project, taking into account private initiatives
and other forms of spontaneous participation.
municipal administration must equip the city with spaces,
facilities and public services that are suitable for the personal,
social, moral and cultural development of all its inhabitants,
paying special attention to children and youth. city.
11. The city
must guarantee the quality of life for all its inhabitants.
This requires creating a balance with its natural surroundings,
providing the right to a healthy environment, as well as the
right to housing, employment, leisure and public transportation,
amongst others. At the same time, the city shall actively
promote health education and the participation of all its
inhabitants in the best practices of sustainable development.
12. The educational
project that is explicit and implicit to the city's structure
and system, the values it promotes, the quality of life it
offers, the celebrations it organises, its campaigns and projects
of all types, must be the subject of reflection and participation,
together with the necessary means that can help people grow
personally and collectively.
III. SERVING ITS INHABITANTS
municipality will assess the impact of all cultural, recreational,
informative, advertising-related and other types of activities
offered, and of the realities which make a direct unmediated
impression on children and youth. In such cases, the municipality
will take non-authoritarian action in an attempt to provide
a rational explanation or interpretation. The municipality
will ensure that a balance is struck between the need for
protection and the need for the autonomy necessary for discovery.
The municipality will also provide educational forums and
debate, including exchange programs between cities, to enable
all inhabitants to fully accept the changes generated by the
14. The city
will make an effort to provide parents with the education
they need to help their children mature and make the city
their own in a spirit of mutual respect. In the same vein,
projects will be developed for educators in general and people
(private individuals, or public service personnel) who undertake
educating functions often without being aware they are doing
so. The educating city will also assure that the police and
civil protection forces that depend directly upon the municipality
act in concert with these proposals.
15. The city
must offer its inhabitants the perspective of occupying their
place in the society: it shall provide them with the necessary
counselling for personal and vocational orientation and make
it possible for them to participate in social activities.
In the specific area of education-work, we should underline
the close relationship that should exist between educational
planning and the needs of the labour market.
the city shall define training strategies that take into account
social demand and shall collaborate with trade union and employers'
organisations in job creation and in formal and non-formal
16. The city
must be aware of the mechanisms of exclusion and marginalization
that affect it and of their various forms, and develop the
affirmative action policies needed. Special concern is needed
for newly arrived persons, whether immigrants or refugees,
who have the right to freely feel that their adoptive city
is their own. The city shall strive to foster social cohesion
amongst its neighbourhoods and inhabitants of all walks of
that minimises differences may take various forms, but it
must always be based on a comprehensive view of the person,
on a model shaped by the interests of each individual and
the rights to which all are entitled. Any meaningful action
must guarantee coordination amongst the various administrative
bodies involved and between the services provided by these
bodies. The city shall also foster the cooperation between
administrations and its citizens freely and democratically
organised in institutions in the so-called tertiary sector,
non-governmental organisations and similar associations.
18. The city
will encourage the formation of associations as a form of
participation and civic co-responsibility, in order to channel
action that provides service to the community and to obtain
and divulge information, material and ideas as to promote
the social, moral and cultural development of the individual.
At the same time, the city shall contribute to educating activities
so that people can participate in decision-making and planning
and in the management processes involved in the life of associations.
19. The municipality
must guarantee sufficient, comprehensible information and
give incentives to its inhabitants to inform themselves of
what is going on. Taking into account the value involved in
selecting, understanding and treating the large flow of information
currently available, the educating city shall establish resources
within everyone's reach. The municipality will identify the
collectives that require special attention, and will place
at their disposal specialised information, orientation and
the same time, the city shall establish programmes for training
in information and communications technology for all ages
and social groups in order to fight against new forms of exclusion.
20. The educating
city must offer all its inhabitants, as a necessary, growing
objective for the community, education in the values and practices
of a democratic citizenry: respect, tolerance, participation,
responsibility and interest in things public, its programmes,
heritage and services.
This Charter expresses the commitment
of the cities undersigned to all the values and principles
expressed herein. It defines itself as being open to revision
and expansion in respect of all such aspects that swift social
evolution may impose in the future.