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Commonwealth of Learning targets education and skills in developing countries

2 March 2015

The Commonwealth of Learning, an intergovernmental body, has set out its strategy to expand the “efficiency, scale and quality” of education across the 53-nation Commonwealth community.

Professor Asha S. Kanwar, President and Chief Executive of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), presented its strategic plan for 2015-2021 at an executive committee board meeting at Marlborough House, the London headquarters of the Commonwealth, on Tuesday 24 February.

The plan details how the organisation will focus on improving access to training and learning in developing countries through improving distance learning and access to technology.

“Our motto is ‘learning for development’ and the spirit of our motto requires that we contribute not just to the development of formal education, but also to strengthening non formal education and life long learning,” said Professor Kanwar.

“We believe that giving people the opportunity to learn helps accelerate progress towards achieving development goals and the Commonwealth values of peace, democracy, equality and good governance,” she added.

Professor Kanwar was speaking at a reception last Monday hosted by Canadian High Commissioner Gordon Campbell at Canada House, in London. The Commonwealth of Learning was first established in 1987 by Commonwealth Heads of Government and has its base in Vancouver, in British Columbia.

The organisation assists developing nations by working with governments to support education policy making and capacity building. A pioneering initiative it co-ordinated was the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth, which continues to provide education opportunities for citizens in remote and scattered communities.

“[We are] a unique organisation," Professor Kanwar continued, "that has the ability to respond to a range of very diverse stakeholders - from the Batwa community in the forests of Uganda, who learn beekeeping using their mobile phones, to a rural village in Malawi,... to construction workers in Nauru, out-of-school youth in Jamaica, and rural girls in Pakistan.”

Linda Sissons, newly appointed Chair of the Board of Governors of COL, thanked Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma for hosting the executive committee meeting at Marlborough House, and expressed appreciation to all Governors for their positive and constructive input to the finalisation of the six-year plan.

The  strategic plan will be presented for endorsement by Education Ministers at the 19th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers in Bahamas, in June 2015.

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