Seniors in Nova Scotia will have more opportunities to participate in specially designed literacy and learning programs as a result of a $40,000 government investment in the Seniors’ Literacy and Learning Initiative. The Seniors’ Secretariat and Department of Education each invested $20,000 to enable communities to implement literacy and learning programs for seniors. “We know that active participation by seniors in all forms of learning is essential to maintaining independence and self-esteem,” said Angus MacIsaac, chair of the Seniors’ Secretariat. “This investment will help deliver more literacy and learning programs to a wider group of seniors, resulting in a better quality of life for older Nova Scotians.” Over the last year, seniors’ literacy and learning pilot projects took place in five Nova Scotia communities. Projects were based on the Seniors’ Secretariat’s learning resource kit for seniors, which includes sections on story telling, computer learning, health and safety. The new funding will help extend these projects and support new activities. “Many seniors don’t have a chance to maintain the literacy skills they need to function easily in today’s text-focused world,” said Education Minister Jamie Muir. “We are focused on providing literacy and learning opportunities for Nova Scotians of all ages. This investment will give older Nova Scotians a chance to upgrade their skills, which will improve their self-confidence, health and overall enjoyment of life.” As part of one of the pilot projects, 11 seniors in the Kentville area collected their own stories to produce a book called Stories That Bind Us Together. The book sold out in the community, and three of the participants have since volunteered to tutor others through the Community Learning Network. “The seniors in our program definitely became more self-confident, and recognized many skills, such as writing, public speaking and reading comprehension,” said Carol Boudreau, facilitator, Kings County project. “Although their lives seem ordinary, they are filled with wisdom that needed to be passed on to family and community. Without the support of Kings County literacy programs, their stories would have gone unspoken, unwritten and unheard.” Through the Seniors’ Literacy and Learning Initiative, Community Learning Networks can apply for grants of up to $3,000 to implement senior-friendly literacy programs in their communities. More information about the Seniors’ Literacy and Learning Initiative is available by calling 1-800-670-0065 or by e-mail at [email protected] .
Overhead view of the city of Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh. Photo: World Bank/Dominic Chavez In his remarks, the Secretary-General noted that momentum is building on this issue in the wake of the recently concluded UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, known as Habitat III, at which attendees adopted the New Urban Agenda, a vision for cities that are just, safe, accessible, affordable, resilient and sustainable.“This marked a milestone in setting global standards for sustainable urban development, sparking new thinking on how we plan, manage and live in cities,” the UN chief said in his message.He went on to flag that along with other new global framework agendas – such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Agenda for Humanity, the Sendai Framework and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda – the New Urban Agenda will put sustainable urbanization at the centre of efforts to eliminate poverty and achieve development and prosperity for all, and it can also complement the Paris Agreement on climate change.“Local action is essential to realizing the potential of these global agreements,” Mr. Ban said. “On World Cities Day, let us renew our resolve to confront urban problems and forge lasting solutions. Together, we can show how success in cities inspires change across the world.”Shifting the urban paradigmMr. Ban was joined in marking the Day by Joan Clos, the Executive Director of UN-Habitat, the UN agency charged with promoting socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all. “To transform our world, we must transform its cities” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement commemorating the Day, which is observed on 31 October around the globe. “They are central to climate action, global prosperity, peace and human rights,” he added. “Crime, pollution and poverty are taking their toll on hundreds of millions of city-dwellers. At the same time, urban areas are hubs of energy, innovation and economic dynamism. By investing in cities, we can advance progress across societies.”In a resolution adopted in February 2014, the UN General Assembly designated the Day in recognition of the significance of urban basic services as a foundation for the overall social and economic development. The rationale underpinning the Day is that planned urbanization maximizes the capacity of cities to generate employment and wealth, and to foster diversity and social cohesion between different classes, cultures, ethnicities and religions. The theme of this year’s observance is ‘Inclusive Cities, Shared Development.’The Day also ties into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with SDG 11 aiming to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. According to UN-Habitat, inequalities in cities have grown since 1980, with the world’s largest cities also often the most unequal. In his message for the occasion, Mr. Clos pointed to the Day as “an essential celebration on the calendar to greatly promote the international community’s interest in global urbanization, push forward cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities and addressing challenges of urbanization.”He said this year’s Day was particularly signi¬ficant as it comes on the heels of Habitat III, which he referred to as, a “resounding success” in which 30,000 people participated in almost 1,000 events over the course of four days.“Such high turnout is a testimony of the strong world interest in urban development, and in taking part in the global conversation about our cities,” Mr. Clos said, flagging that planning and managing cities are core sustainable global development challenges that hold the key to achieving equal and inclusive societies.“This year the World Cities Day is happening within the framework of a New Urban Agenda, the first of this century to make possible the change of the current cities’ model for better urban life,” continued the Executive Director.“The New Urban Agenda shares a vision of cities for all, ensuring that all citizens are able to inhabit and produce just, safe, healthy, accessible, affordable an sustainable cities for foster prosperity and quality of life,” he added.Dr. Clos elaborated that in line with Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, the New Urban Agenda envisages cities and human settlements where everyone can feel a sense of belonging and have equal opportunities to participate in. High rises and hotel buildings in Punta Pacifica, Panama City, Panama. Photo: World Bank/Gerardo Pesantez