Success & Access in Learning

Excerpts from the speech by Sir John Daniel at the launch ceremony of the 6th Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning, Chennai, India, on 10th October, 2009

Sir John Daniel
President and CEO,
The Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

“It is a pleasure to be back in Chennai and to announce the launch of preparations for the 6th Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning in the presence of the Chair of our Honorary Academic Advisory Committee, Professor M S Swaminathan.

As the number implies this will be the sixth in a series of increasingly impactful pan-Commonwealth forums on open learning. We are most grateful to IGNOU, the world’s largest open university with a full range of academic programmes, for agreeing to partner with us. We hope that PCF6 will showcase IGNOU to the world and not only IGNOU, but Indian expertise and experience in distance education more widely.

No country has made a bigger commitment to the use of technology of open and distance learning in education than India. In higher education, as well as IGNOU, you have a dozen state open universities, represented here by the Vice-Chancellor of the Tamil Nadu Open University The title we have chosen for PCF6 is Access and Success in Learning: Global Development Perspectives. We want to stress the importance of successful learning. We know now that with technology we can take learning to scale. We also know from examples that it is possible to take learning to scale with high quality. What we must do is achieve quality at scale consis- tently in the most cost-effective manner. That is where the global exchange of experience is invaluable. The programme of PCF6, which will be developed under the able leadership of Dr Ramanujam, will aim for an integrated blend of themes and sessions, some originating in COL’s own programme of work, some in the papers submitted for presentation.
This blend should not be diffi cult to achieve because COL’s programme of work for 2009-2012 was developed in the light of Commonwealth needs, contemporary trends, and government priorities – all in a perspective of global development… …Access to success in learning does
not only mean formal education. Global development depends on the informal and self-directed learning of billions of people. Skills development is the bridge between the formal and the non-formal. Technical and vocational education in institutions is fi ne, but we also need more informal learning that leads directly to improved livelihoods…. …Open Educational Resources are sure to be a lively topic of debate. These are just some of the themes that will generate passionate discussions at PCF6. Over theyears the PCFs have gained a reputation as the most interesting and vital conferences addressing the intersection of development, learning and technology. I am sure that the 6th Pan-Commonwealth Forumon Open Learning will take that reputation to even greater heights and it is a pleasure to be here to announce it in India today and to announce the selection of the logo for PCF6 after a competition that attracted 120 entries. It is very appropriate that the winner is an MBA student of IGNOU…”