COL's network of Honorary Chairs in Open and Distance Learning is co-ordinated where possible in collaboration with UNESCO, which already operates a Chairs Programme across a range of disciplines.

Distinguished serving academics in some of the 27 Commonwealth open universities/polytechnics are designated by COL as Honorary Chairs with a national or regional remit to co-operate with national agencies and educational institutions in conducting studies, surveys, research and training on open and distance learning (ODL) and technology-mediated education at all levels. They represent the academic face of COL and complement the political and administrative role of the Focal Points and Honorary Advisors.

Although serving in an honorary capacity, apppointed Chairs may apply to COL for occasional funding for programme and capacity-building activities in the areas of COL’s mandate.


Terms of Reference

  1. To organize, facilitate and carry out surveys,  studies and research on the current status and emerging trends in ODL and technology-enhanced education at all levels in cooperation with universities, other educational institutions and national agencies; 
  2. To document the findings from such surveys, studies and research to develop a database on ODL that could be shared with all stakeholders in the region, UNESCO and COL, with a view to sharing best practice in ODL; 
  3. To promote and strengthen regional cooperation by creating an environment to facilitate and sustain the sharing of intellectual and physical resources (course materials, delivery systems and networking) for promoting the use of ODL and technology-enhanced education and training at all levels; 
  4. To create, develop and strengthen mechanisms at the regional level for consultation, collaboration and joint initiatives in the use of ODL and relevant technologies in cooperation with stakeholders; 
  5. To carry out studies and research on the impact of ODL and the initiatives taken by UNESCO and COL, in enhancing opportunities for, and access to,  education and training in the region; 
  6. To facilitate capacity-building in ODL and technology-enhanced education and training; and 
  7. To keep the Secretary Generals of UNESCO, National Commissions and COL Focal Points informed, as appropriate, of all activities under this programme.



Athabasca University, Canada
Chair Holder: Dr. Rory McGreal

Mzuzu University, Malawi
Chair Holder: Dr. Fred Gennings Wanyavinkhumbo Msiska

National Open University of Nigeria
Chair Holder: Professor Vincent Ado Tenebe

Open University of Sri Lanka
Chair Holder: vacant

Open University of Tanzania
Chair Holder: Professor Tolly Mbwette

Otago Polytechnic
Chair Holder: Dr. Robin Day