President & Chief Executive Officer

Professor Asha Singh Kanwar, one of the world’s leading advocates of learning for development, became President and Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) in June 2012. She has served COL first as an Education Specialist – Higher Education and Policy and then as its Vice President for six years. Before joining COL, Professor Kanwar was a consultant in open and distance learning at UNESCO's Regional Office for Education in Africa (BREDA) in Dakar, Senegal

Professor Kanwar's engagement with distance education began when she joined Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) where she served as Professor, Director of the School of Humanities and Pro-Vice Chancellor. Professor Kanwar has over 35 years of experience in teaching, research and administration. She has written, edited and co-edited a dozen books and published over 50 papers and articles. Prof Kanwar is invited to give keynotes at prestigious international conferences and her speeches and presentations are available at www.col.org.

A recipient of several awards and fellowships, Professor Kanwar brings with her the experience of having studied and worked in different contexts, both developing and developed. She received her undergraduate, Master's and MPhil degrees from the Panjab University in India and a DPhil from the University of Sussex. She was a Fulbright Fellow for post-doctoral research at Iowa State University, where she was later invited to teach.

Professor Kanwar has received the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) Prize of Excellence and the Meritorious Service Award for outstanding contributions in open and distance education from the Asian Association of Open Universities. She was made a Fellow of the National Teachers Institute, Kaduna, Nigeria. She has been conferred six honorary doctorates: from the Vardhman Mahaveer Open University, KK Handiqui State Open University, India; the Open University, UK; the Open University of Sri Lanka; the University of Swaziland and Wawasan Open University, Malaysia. 


Speeches and Presentations