The Commonwealth of Learning

A farmer in rural India listens to a lesson about goat-rearing on her mobile phone. A high school drop-out in Tonga resumes her studies through distance learning. A teacher in Jamaica learns how to use computers to augment his lessons. A young mother in Malawi listens to a radio show about how to keep her baby healthy. A university lec­turer in Seychelles contributes to a new on­line learning programme about sustainable tourism.

Technology is transforming learning and livelihoods around the world. The Common­wealth of Learning (COL) is leading the way, helping developing countries increase their access to learning using distance education and appropriate technologies.

Hosted by the government of Canada and headquartered in Vancouver, COL is the world’s only intergovernmental organisation solely concerned with the promotion and devel­opment of open and distance learning (ODL). Established at the request of Commonwealth heads of government in 1987, COL receives a significant overall level of funding, coopera­tion and support from developing countries.

The international Board of Governors is chaired by the Hon. Burchell Whiteman, O.J., the former Jamaican High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and includes repre­sentatives from all four regions of the Com­monwealth. COL’s new president and CEO is Professor Asha Kanwar, one of the world’s leading advocates of learning for development.

All 54 Commonwealth member countries benefit from COL’s work, which addresses the key learning and development chal­lenges associated with the UN Millennium Development Goals and Education for All targets. These include gender equity, sus­tainable development, environmental pro­tection and civil rights, as well as the Com­monwealth objectives of peace, democracy, equality and good governance.

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