Open Learning for Development: Towards Empowerment and Transformation
Seventh Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning, Opening Ceremony, Inaugural Keynote Address, 3 December 2013, International Conference Centre, Abuja, Nigeria by Professor Olu Jegede, FSTAN, FAAS, Secretary to the Government of Kogi State of Nigeria // The main agenda for discussion at this Forum draws attention to the use of open learning for development. It further explicates the issue by focusing on its use for empowerment and transformation. Please recall my reference earlier to the Theme for the PCF1 which was Empowerment and Technology. When we examine this alongside the agenda for PCF7, one question that comes to mind is whether anything has changed since 14 years ago. Doesn’t it look like we are recycling ideas? On the surface, it might seem so, but a thorough examination of the tremendous development in ODL and in education generally would inform us that a lot has changed. For instance, more than ever before, ODL has gained global acceptance and governments, especially in the developing world, now see it as sine qua non for development. Second, there is undoubtedly a growing importance of ODL at all levels, sectors and communities of education. At the moment it appears that the romance between ODL and higher education is in full bloom! Third, because the world can no more ignore ODL, this mode of instruction has now been mainstreamed and indeed, many face-to-face institutions have now embraced ODL for a variety of reasons. Fourth, the flexibility of ODL as a mode of instruction has made it the preferred mode of reaching people in many non-formal circumstances. Fifth, the integration of technology into ODL and its continuous development has made ODL a viable and rewarding business.