Commonwealth of Learning

Commonwealth of Learning
Commonwealth of Learning
Formation 1988
Type Intergovernmental organization
Purpose/focus To develop open learning and distance education
Headquarters Vancouver, Canada
Region served 53 member states of the Commonwealth of Nations
President and Chief Executive Officer John Daniel
Parent organization Commonwealth of Nations

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is an intergovernmental organization of the Commonwealth of Nations headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Founded at the 1987 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)[1] and inaugurated in 1988,[2] COL's mandate is to promote and develop the use of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources and technologies throughout the Commonwealth's 53 member states.[1][3][4] COL has evolved into one of the world's leading distance education provider[5] and lead the international development in distance education along with UNESCO.[6] COL is the only intergovernmental organization solely concerned with the development of distance education.[6]

COL's activities are grouped under three sectors: education, learning for livelihoods, and human environment.[1] COL helps nations increase access to quality education at all levels by focusing on quality assurance, teacher development, new approaches to higher education and the creation of expertise in Electronic learning.[1] It helps countries to identify where livelihoods can be improved, and to create matching learning opportunities.[1] Successful approaches to improving rural and peri-urban economies draw on COL's close relationship with international agricultural bodies.[1]

Financial support for COL's core operations is provided by Commonwealth governments on a voluntary basis, with primary funding renewed every three years. COL also receives extra-budgetary income from other development sources and provides fee-for-service distance education and open learning course delivery and training for international agencies, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

COL's major financial contributors currently include Canada, India, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa and the United Kingdom, all of which have representatives on COL's Board of Governors.[1] The current President and Chief Executive Officer of COL is Sir John Daniel, who was former Assistant Director-General for Education at UNESCO and Vice Chancellor of the Open University from 1990 to 2001.[1] COL's professional staff includes an internationally recruited group of education specialists.

COL works co-operatively with Commonwealth governments and operates through a wide range of partnerships.[1] COL's partners include national and international development agencies and banks, such as non-governmental organizations, other Commonwealth agencies like the Commonwealth Secretariat, United Nations bodies such as UNESCO, UNICEF, UNIFEM, UNDP and the World Bank, national and regional distance education associations and industry.

COL's overall approach and the focus, scope and type of specific programmes and projects is directed by a guidance document referred to as the Three-year Plan, revised with each funding cycle. Revisions are based on input and feedback from Commonwealth member governments and organizations, and are informed by the changing development needs of Commonwealth member nations. Learning for Development is the theme of COL's Three-year Plan 2006—2009.[1] The goal of the plan includes the United NationsMillennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA) declarations and the Commonwealth's priorities of peace, democracy, equality and good governance.[1]

COL is also co-ordinating the development of a Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth and supporting WikiEducator, a community resource for the development of free educational content.

In 2002, COL awarded the BBC World Service Commonwealth of Learning Award of Excellence for Institutional Achievement for the standard of its English teaching on radio and online.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Commonwealth of Learning
  2. ^ Commonwealth of Learning Opens
  3. ^ New Zealand Contributions to Commonwealth Funds - 2007/08: Commonwealth of Learning
  4. ^ Lalage J. Bown (2003). Education in the Commonwealth: The First Forty Years : from Oxford to Halifax and beyond. Commonwealth Secretariat. p. 149. ISBN 0850926920. 
  5. ^ The Commonwealth of Learning looking ahead to CHOGM 1999
  6. ^ a b David H. Jonassen (2004). Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. p. 388. ISBN 0805841458. 
  7. ^ BBC World Service wins English language teaching award BBC

External links

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