With the support of India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), COL collaborated with Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) to organise a two-day roundtable of Vice Chancellors of Open Universities in Asia and Africa from 23 to 24 April in New Delhi, India. Nineteen Vice Chancellors from eight countries including Bangladesh, Botswana, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Tanzania were in attendance.
In her keynote address, Professor Asha Kanwar, COL President and CEO, flagged the issues concerning open and distance learning (ODL) institutions in the 21st century and suggested some possible solutions for staying relevant to digital learners. Professor Kanwar also highlighted COL’s activities across the Commonwealth in helping institutions develop policies and practices to make the best use of the latest technology for teaching and learning for sustainable development. She emphasised the need to improve learners’ cognitive skills, soft skills and industrial skills to address the issue of employability.
Dr Shahid Rasool, Director of the Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA), underlined the opportunities offered by the convergence of conventional and ODL institutions in terms of delivery and engagement with learners in the digital age. This convergence, he said, will help increase the credibility and level of acceptance of ODL degrees if institutions take full advantage of the cutting-edge technology for teaching and learning.
The inaugural event was presided over by Professor Nageshwar Rao, Vice Chancellor of IGNOU. Dr B K Bhadri, from MHRD, also spoke at the function. A presentation of the Concept Note by Professor Madhu Parhar from IGNOU and other technical sessions covering various issues concerning the ODL system followed.