Welcoming NGO’s into the ‘FOLD’: COL Update from the Pacific Partnership Project

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15 NGO representatives from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu participated in a regional workshop on Skills and Leadership training for youth, women and persons with disabilities. This was the first in-person meeting of the Pacific Partners since the Covid-19 pandemic.

The event was held on August 10, 2022 in Suva and was jointly organised with COL and the Pacific Centre for Flexible and Open Learning for Development (PACFOLD) – all part of the Partnership for Open, Distance and Flexible Learning (ODFL) in the Pacific project supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), New Zealand.

The purpose of the workshop was to introduce the Pacific project to and gather insights from local NGOs regarding the opportunities and challenges for youth, women and persons with disabilities, as well as to explore the use of online training solutions.

Dr Rajni Chand, Director of PACFOLD, commented, “PACFOLD, a collaborative initiative between COL and the University of the South Pacific, facilitates flexible and open learning for people in the region. Covid-19 has made us realise the importance of ODFL and PACFOLD is doing all it can to provide that support, training and information for everyone in the region.”

Ms Frances Ferreira, COL’s Acting Director: Skills and the workstream leader of the project for youth, provided an overview of the project which aimed at providing skills and leadership training for youth and marginalised learners in partnership with NGOs making use of online learning.

During the meeting, NGO representatives identified their strengths and weaknesses, challenges and areas that are in need for support. Based on these discussions, representatives were invited to submit an action plan and proposal to COL for consideration detailing each organisation’s specific training and capacity requirements, including developing short online courses in technical skills, entrepreneurship, self-employment and leadership. Over the next three years, selected partners would work with COL/PACFOLD to develop short online courses to train 5,000 youth in leadership and technical skills.

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