Pan-Commonwealth Forum opens in Edinburgh with rousing first day

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10 September 2019, Burnaby, BC, Canada – More than 500 delegates from around the world arrived at the historic BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland for opening day of the ninth Pan-Commonwealth Forum (PCF9) on 9 September 2019.

Organised by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and co-hosted with The Open University, PCF9 began with a lively opening ceremony, and then moved into the title plenary panel on the forum theme, ‘Innovations for Quality Education and Lifelong Learning.”

British film producer, educator, environmentalist and member of the House of Lords, Lord Puttnam of Queensgate, C.B.E., delivered the Asa Briggs lecture. His address explored the need to prepare students and employees for the changing workforce of the 21st century, and he spoke of how one day of every working week – a fifth day – should be dedicated to this ‘re-skilling’ task.

The leaders of the host institutions, Professor Asha Kanwar, COL President and CEO, and Professor Mary Kellett, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, noted that PCF9 presented a valuable opportunity to discuss solutions for some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

“We need to prepare people, particularly our youth, for the ‘brave new world’ that awaits,” said Professor Asha Kanwar. “PCF9 brings together delegates from countries with immense need and we hope that the forum will breed creativity and innovation when it comes to addressing some of today’s foremost global education challenges. I am delighted to welcome all attendees to the beautiful city of Edinburgh.”

“Globally, we face growing challenges from climate change, automation and mass movement of people. Education has enormous potential to help us all, but we need to make a collective effort. For fifty years the OU has led the way in open education and we will continue to pursue our mission of openness, ensuring that learning is accessible to everyone,” said Professor Mary Kellett. “The Pan-Commonwealth Forum provides a platform to share ideas from around the world, learn from each other and demonstrate the difference lifelong learning can make. It’s heartening to see educators from across the Commonwealth come together and a pleasure to be able to host them in Edinburgh.”

The first day also included opportunities for delegates to network with fellow PCF9 attendees. They were also invited to tour BT Murrayfield Stadium, the largest sports venue in Scotland and the home of Scottish Rugby. The welcome reception capped off day one with a traditional Scottish meal and performances by Jane Constance, UNESCO Artist for Peace and winner of French television competition The Voice Kids, as well as the Foot Stompin’ Ceilidh Band.

PCF9 is made possible by the generous support of its sponsors and forum partners.

Sponsors: The Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Commonwealth Foundation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia, Open Polytechnic, the National Open University of Nigeria, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the University of London, and the National Institute of Open Schooling.

Forum Partners: Infosys (lead partner), the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, the International Council for Open and Distance Education, and the Open Impact Conference.

About COL

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) was created by Commonwealth Heads of Government to promote the development and sharing of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources and technologies. Hosted by the Government of Canada, COL is the world’s only intergovernmental organisation solely concerned with the promotion and development of distance education and open learning.

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