Lifelong Learning in the Commonwealth: Issues and Challenges
International Lifelong Learning Conference, “Transforming Nations through Enculturation of Lifelong Learning” Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 14-15 November 2011, Lifelong Learning in the Commonwealth: Issues and Challenges by Dr. Balasubramanian Kodhandaraman, Mr. John Lesperance, Ms. Alison Mead Richardson & Sir John Daniel, Commonwealth of Learning // We give examples of how the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is helping countries to expand and improve lifelong learning. After describing COL and its working context we examine some of the issues and challenges in three of its initiatives. // Governments are shifting their educational priorities from academic programmes to skills development but conventional institutional approaches to technical and vocational education and training (TVET) cannot meet the huge needs. Countries must adopt flexible methods of skills development that make training available wherever people live (distance learning) and expand skills development in support of the informal economy in which many work. We describe how member institutions of the Commonwealth Association of Polytechnics in Africa are facing the challenge of implementing such approaches. // Through ten years of action research, COL and its collaborators have developed a successful model for increasing rural prosperity known as Lifelong Learning for Farmers (L3F). The model works by rendering more effective, for all participants, a value chain that brings together farmers, banks, knowledge providers and communications systems. One issue is to take advantage of new approaches (e.g. to banking) and new technologies (e.g. using cell phones instead of ICT kiosks). The key challenge is to ensure the self-replication of the model. Sustaining current projects is not enough. // eLearning is playing an ever larger role in education and training. The small countries of the Commonwealth (a majority of its member states) are working together to strengthen their tertiary institutions by collaborating in the development of programmes to achieve economies of scale and better quality. The collaborative mechanism is the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC), an idea conceived by Education Ministers in 2000. It is being implemented through professional training, course development, new approaches to delivering eLearning, and the use of a Transnational Qualifications Framework (TQF). A key challenge is to embed the VUSSC’s outputs in the life of the tertiary institutions.