ODL in an International Context: Trends, Prospects and Challenges
Public Lecture, 29 August 2005, Windhoek, Namibia, ODL in an International Context: Trends, Prospects and Challenges By: Sir John Daniel, Asha Kanwar (Commonwealth of Learning) & Stamenka Uvalić-Trumbić (UNESCO) // Thank you very much for the honour of inviting me to give this public lecture during my visit to Namibia. It is very good to be back in your country, which I last visited at the beginning of last year when I was Assistant Director-General for Education at UNESCO. At the time I was most impressed by the work of Namibia Polytechnic and it is a pleasure to be part of your 10th anniversary celebrations. // Dr Jan Alberts suggested the title ODL in an international context: trends, prospects and challenges. This suits me nicely. With the help of two co-authors I want to focus on a manifestation of open and distance learning which is at the same time a trend, a prospect and a challenge. // That manifestation of ODL is cross-border education, sometimes also known as transnational education. I shall ask the simple question, what does cross-border higher education mean for the developing world? I have prepared this public lecture with Asha Kanwar, my colleague at the Commonwealth of Learning who leads our work in higher education, and my former colleague Stamenka Uvaliæ-Trumbiæ, of UNESCO's Division of Higher Education. // We shall begin by asking what cross-border higher education is. Then our key question is whether cross-border higher education can help developing countries provide higher education for their citizens. To do so it has to meet three challenges: the three 'A's of accessibility, availability and affordability. // So we shall first examine trends in higher education by recalling the Declaration of the 1998 World Conference on Higher Education. This will set the scene for looking at the reality of cross-border HE in three very different developing countries on three continents: India, Jamaica and Sierra Leone. We shall conclude from these cases that cross-border HE is today making a negligible contribution to the provision of higher education that is accessible, available and affordable in developing countries. // How might this unfortunate situation change for the better? The work of C.K. Prahalad, in his book, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, provides some pointers. They challenge cross-border education radically to change its cost structures and approaches in order to serve millions of people who are now deprived of higher education. // How might such radical changes occur? The electronic delivery of services is changing business models dramatically. Electronic delivery could transform cross-border HE - provided that it exploits the breakthrough of open source software in the management of learning and the use of learning objects.