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7th Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning
Start Date: Dec 02, 2013
End Date: Dec 06, 2013
Venue: Abuja
Description: The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is an intergovernmental organisation created by Commonwealth Heads of Government to encourage the development and sharing of open learning/distance education knowledge, resources and technologies. COL is helping developing nations improve access to quality education and training.

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of more than 50 independent sovereign states, which provide support to each other, and work together toward international goals. The Commonwealth is described as a "family" of nations, originally linked together in the British Empire, and now building on their common heritage in language, culture and education, which enables them to work together in an atmosphere of greater trust and understanding than generally prevails among nations.

Bringing together some 1.7 billion people of many faiths, races, languages, traditions and levels of economic development, the Commonwealth represents almost one-third of the world's population.

COL, in partnership with Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Education, is hosting the 7th Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF7) under the theme ‘Open Learning for Development: Towards Empowerment and Transformation’, from 2-6 December 2013 in Abuja.

COL's Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning is held biennially. It is co-hosted with different partners in different regions of the Commonwealth each time. The five-day programme is designed to explore applications of open and distance learning in widening educational access, bridging the digital divide and advancing the social and economic development of communities and nations at large. The Forum's focus is on topics relating to developing countries and participation of practitioners from these countries. COL's Excellence in Distance Education Awards are also presented at the Forum.

Sub-themes:

Girls’ and Women’s Education:

Around 75 million girls in the developing world are not in school. The transition to secondary and tertiary education among girls is also limited. Similarly, 64 percent of the adult illiterate in the developing world are women affecting agriculture, health and formal/informal sectors. This sub-theme will look into the challenges and demonstrate the perspectives, methodologies and options through ODL for strengthening girl’s education and women’s learning leading to empowerment and transformation.

Skills Development:

Skills development covers a wide range of areas including information communication technology (ICT) skills, technical and vocational skills, pedagogical skills, life skills, employability skills etc. One of the major challenges faced by developing countries is how to design and implement cost-effective programmes that can meet the needs of the increasingly restive young men and women, and empower them to live productive and healthy lives. Technical and vocational skills development for employment, entrepreneurship and support for the informal sector of the economy are key elements of national development goals. The dynamic nature of the socio-economic and political realities in which youth and adults in both developed and developing countries live, require robust, responsive and cost-effective skills development strategies that harness the potentials of ICT and open and flexible learning approaches in order to update their knowledge and skills in the context of lifelong learning. Similarly the huge shortfalls in teacher supply (Africa alone needs more than three million teachers by 2015), and the relatively high proportion of untrained teachers suggest the need to adopt open and distance learning in order to improve teacher supply and teacher quality. This theme will focus on how ODL in increasingly flexible and blended approaches is contributing to the expansion of skills development opportunities for Commonwealth citizens in order to enable them lead productive lives.

Promoting Open Educational Resources (OER):

The Open Educational Resources (OER) movement and models have emerged with great potential to support educational transformation. This has resulted in significant emphasis being placed on the quality of OER which makes it an interesting concept. Learning materials published as OER are widely available and the momentum for developing more OER has never been greater. The learner community is now driving OER through the use of social media. The focus now should be on the use of OER. Africa has been an important player in OER and has produced OER in sizeable quantity. This theme will examine case studies, good practices and challenges to promote the use of OER.

Innovation and Technology:

New ideas and tools are critical if education is meet the challenges of development. From print to mobiles, technology is a central feature of ODL, however innovation also concerns social processes and the ways in which technologies are applied. This broad-based theme aims to help practitioner and policymakers stay up-to-date with fast-changing technological developments and to facilitate the exchange of models, tools and approaches across the ODL field.

Institutional Development:

Institutional capacity is an important determinant of the quality, access and learner success in ODL. Resources invested in institutional development, especially in governance structures, quality systems and leadership can create a long-term and sustainable impact on ODL growth in a given region. This theme will examine the emerging challenges and requisite developmental imperatives facing ODL institutions and development organisations, in terms of their capacity to manage change, developments in technology, governance and stakeholder relations, accountability and relative advantage.

The Forum website will be available soon: www.pcf7.net.
Website: http://www.col.org/progServ/panComm/Pages/pcf.aspx
Created By: CPSI
Organizers: Commonwealth of Learning
Participation Requirements: Open

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