Distance Learning Methods to Promote Sustainable Livelihoods
PCF3 // The Open University of Sri Lanka in its corporate objectives has identified the need to empower rural communities through distance education and open learning. Distance learning in the sense that the student is spatially and temporarily removed from the centre and open learning to connote open entry and open curriculum including the methods of assessment. The Commonwealth of Learning too has identified life-long-learning as a method to contribute to knowledge and skills of small-holder farmers and to enable them participate in the increasingly complex food-production market chains. // For the last three years the Open University and COL have collaborated to identify rural community needs and capabilities in Sri Lanka and to create opportunities for those communities to examine and critique modern technologies used in rural areas and suggest modifications from user perspective. These finding were recorded and broadcast over the national community radio service as a method of evoking awareness among rural people and to obtain a feedback from them. // The rural technologies identified and the participatory work carried out to make these identified artefacts and processes available to the people have given the Open University the base to commence a distance education programme. The Norwegian Development Fund is assisting the Open University, to commence a programme in 2004, to take these technologies to the rural people thereby making them critically aware of the technology options available to them and enabling them to take part, jointly, in the process involved in their evaluation and selection.