The Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC) is a network initiated by and built on the support of Ministers of Education of developing small states of the Commonwealth. It is committed to the collaborative development of open content resources for education, training and capacity building, and the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) to broaden access to education.
COL is co-ordinating the development of VUSSC on behalf of Commonwealth Ministers of Education. Thirty-two countries are actively engaged in making VUSSC a reality. VUSSC countries have chosen to focus on creating skills-related post-secondary courses in areas such as tourism, entrepreneurship, professional development, disaster management and a range of technical and vocational subjects. These non-proprietary, electronically-held course materials – developed by small states, for small states – can readily be adapted to the specific context of each country. Small states thus become active contributors to global development and leaders in educational reform through the innovative use ICTs.
Collaborative Materials Development
COL is building capacity in online materials development among educators in small states of the Commonwealth by hosting intensive training workshops or "boot camps". Educators from small states learn computer literacy skills and how to collaboratively develop learning materials. Upon return to their home countries, workshop participants continue to collaborate on course materials and share their skills with colleagues. The sixth VUSSC training workshop, scheduled for late 2009 in Samoa, will focus on creating learning materials related to the maritime industry.
VUSSC launched its own website in 2009. The site is a gateway to information about VUSSC activities and resources, including online courses in subjects such as disaster management, entrepreneurship, life skills and tourism. Developed by educators from small states of the Commonwealth, the VUSSC courses are freely available to anyone for download, adaptation and use.
A Management Committee is now directing VUSSC's activities, supported by COL's Education Specialist for VUSSC, Mr. John Lesperance. The committee includes representatives from small states in all regions of the
• Dr. Emma Kruse Vaai, National University of Samoa (Asia/Pacific), Chairperson
• Mr. Ricaud Auckbur, Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Mauritius (Africa, Mediterranean)
• Dr. Leon Higgs, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, The Bahamas (Caribbean)
• Dr. Mamolete Mohapi, National University of Lesotho (Africa, Mediterranean)
• Ms. Karen Rosemin, Ministry of Science, Technology & Tertiary Education, Trinidad & Tobago (Caribbean)
• Dr. Ali Fawaz Shareef, Centre for Open Learning, Maldives (Asia/Pacific)
• Mr. Kaylash Allgoo, Mauritius Qualifications Authority, (ex-officio as Chairperson of the VUSSC Transnational Qualifications Framework Committee)
Transnational Qualifications Framework
VUSSC is developing a Transnational Qualifications Framework (TQF) – a widely recognised system for accreditation for VUSSC courses that will help establish credibility and facilitate the movement of courses and learners between states. A committee of representatives from six small states of the Commonwealth has developed a TQF Implementation Plan that is being forwarded to Ministers of Education in all 32 states for endorsement.
COL is actively looking for funds to support VUSSC content creation. Development agencies and others that are interested in pursuing this opportunity are encouraged to contact Mr. John Lesperance, COL Education Specialist, VUSSC.