Story Valley goes to Edinburgh

Frisian initiative, to connect UNESCO knowledge to vocational education, kicks off in Scotland.

European MBO schools and UNESCO Cities of Literature met in Edinburgh Scotland for a joint initiative aimed at improving the literacy of MBO students and to teach them about each other’s heritage and culture.

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland and the founder of the UNESCO Cities of Literature, hosted the first ‘live’ meeting of the Erasmus project Story Valley, on October 27-29th. The City of Edinburgh Council, together with Edinburgh College, welcomed Story Valley partners from three other European UNESCO Cities of Literature – Leeuwarden (NL), Ljubljana (SL) and Nottingham (GB).

The European project ‘Story Valley‘ allows MBO students from Friesland, students from Europe, and migrants to learn about each other’s heritage (stories) in a fascinating way, while strengthening their language skills. Story Valley uses the power of these stories and creativity as an engine to preserve cultural heritage and enrich it with the stories of other cultures.

Story Valley originated in Leeuwarden in 2019, after the city was appointed as a UNESCO City of Literature. Learning Hub Friesland (LHF) saw the knowledge that the UNESCO network has on the one hand, and the challenges vocational education in the Netherlands and Europe has with the literacy level of their students on the other. Many students only reach the basic language level after graduating and later experience difficulties in their profession.

It was also noticeable that the UNESCO Cities of Literature network mainly had connections with higher education and little or no connection with vocational education. That had to change! The Story Valley project proposal was written in collaboration with Friesland College and New Noardic Wave, subsequently assessed by the European Erasmus Fund with 86 points (out of 100) and financed for 3 years.

The visit brought together the city’s literary sector, cultural partners and vocational education – Edinburgh College, Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature, Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF), and the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

During the three-day programme, Story Valley partners visited Edinburgh College to see the project in action, share real-world experiences and explore potential collaborations. The Scottish International Storytelling Festival was also visited and representatives of innovative projects taking place across the city were interviewed. Examples include: Super Power Agency, a creative writing program that uses writing to build confidence among hard-to-reach 8-18 year olds in Edinburgh; the project Creative Words for Well-being from the Scottish Poetry Library; Street Reads Library, a safe space that connects homeless people with books; the Digital Storytelling project from the Scottish Book Trust; and the Citizen Project from the EIBF.

The program was topped off with a light show on 28 October when the Granton Gasholder, recently brought to life in partnership with Edinburgh College, was lit up in the colors of Story Valley.

The Story Valley initiative is funded by the ERASMUS+ Program of the European Union.


Additional information:

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Partners Story Valley Leeuwarden
Learning Hub Friesland Foundation
Friesland College
New Nordic Wave

European Partners Story Valley
Edinburgh City Council
Edinburgh College
Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature (Chairman UNESCO COL)
Ljubljana UNESCO City of Literature (Vice President UNESCO COL)
National Literacy Trust
Multimedia and Graphic Technology Secondary School Ljubljana

Associated partners of Story Valley in NL
Leeuwarden UNESCO City of Literature
Municipality of Leeuwarden
Province of Friesland
The Letterenfonds
UNESCO Netherlands

For more information contact: Hester van der Werff (LHF) +31 655273683