COL recently held its regional Focal Points meeting for the Pacific in Lautoka, Fiji. Focal Points, senior officials nominated by ministers of education to keep them briefed on COL’s work, or their representatives from Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu attended the two-day meeting to discuss country priorities.
The Pacific Centre for Flexible & Open Learning for Development (PACFOLD), a COL-supported regional centre hosted by the University of South Pacific, helped with organising this event. PACFOLD’s Director Dr Rajni Chand attended the meeting.
The President and CEO of COL Professor Asha Kanwar highlighted what previous regional meetings had addressed – namely, systematic ways to build policy and assist teachers in adopting blended learning strategies. In addition, Professor Kanwar underscored lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, namely the necessity of building resilience; blended learning is here to stay with an emphasis on improving access to digital devices; and addressing the increasing inequality which must be contained.
The President also discussed the significance of adopting blue and green economic and allied skills and how open and distance learning and blended learning can support skills development for employment.
A detailed presentation on OER and its use in the region was also provided.
Additionally, Focal Points identified teacher capacity-building to help deliver blended and online learning as the shared priority across the region. COL was sought out as a source of relevant online materials and a provider of expertise in instructional design. There was also a keen interest in learning more about micro-credentials and creating a unified approach to policy on technology-enabled learning.
Dr V. Balaji, Vice President, Dr Betty Ogange, Education Specialist: Teacher Education and Dr Tony Mays, Education Specialist: Open Schooling from COL, served as co-facilitators for the meeting.
COL welcomed the Honourable Professor Biman Prasad Deputy Prime Minister of Fiji to a social event with organisers and participants following the meeting.