Learning for Development: The Role of Distance Education

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Daniel, John
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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)
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I shall start by asking what we mean by development. We use the word often, but what do we imagine when we pronounce it? I shall suggest that development simply means increasing freedom. There are many sorts of freedom and many sorts of development. I shall suggest that three important sets of development aims for PNG are to be found in three sets of goals. // First there are the eight Millennium Development Goals that were proclaimed by the world's Heads of Government when they met at the United Nations in the year 2000. Second there are the six goals for education that were agreed at the World Forum on Education for All, also in the Millennium Year. Third, there are the goals espoused by the Commonwealth, the free association of 53 countries of which Papua New Guinea is a proud member. I shall then show you how COL simplifies these goals and groups them in its Plan of work for 2006-09. // Many things are needed for development to happen, but one common factor that unites efforts to achieve development goals is the need for learning - learning on a massive scale. But the challenge of learning is so huge that traditional methods of teaching are not sufficient to address it. Technology has helped us to improve the quantity and quality of products and services in other areas of human life so we must now apply technology to learning. That is the only way we can meet the learning challenge. The technology of open and distance learning has proved particularly successful. // I shall conclude my talk by showing how educational technology and distance learning is being used by COL to promote learning for development in various areas. I shall focus particularly on identifying models for using technology, models that allow us to scale up learning in such a sustainable way that they are widely adopted - what I shall call self replication. A key element of sustainability and self replication is for people to be able to do it themselves, with minimal outside involvement. The aim is for people to take charge of their own development - to aim for development without donors.
Distance Education, Learning for Sustainable Development
Papua New Guinea