The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) with financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade New Zealand (MFAT NZ) in partnership with the Pacific Centre for Flexible and Open Learning for Development at the Centre for Flexible Learning is promoting and supporting greater use of Open, Distance and Flexible Learning (ODFL) opportunities as part of their project called Partnership for Open, Distance and Flexible Learning in the Pacific (November 2020 to June 2025).

PACFOLD has significant experiences in ODFL which puts us in the best position to provide support for ODFL at a regional scale. This project is being implemented in nine Commonwealth countries in the Pacific (Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu).

ODFL is an important channel for increasing education opportunities and outcomes. It is particularly relevant for the Pacific given small dispersed remote populations and limited access to secondary and post-secondary education and training opportunities in rural and outer island locations. The Covid-19 pandemic has further reinforced the need for the Pacific to be well prepared for non-contact teaching and learning approaches outside traditional classroom-based practices.

The goals of the project are to contribute to enhanced capacity and efficiency of Pacific education sectors through greater use of innovative delivery mechanisms and technology.

There are four workstreams in this project which will target the following areas:

  1. Immediate response to COVID-19: this will deliver a package of open educational resources that Ministries across the region can access and use to support teaching and learning. It will also focus on upskilling teachers in distance learning, with support from specialist mentors at USP.
  2. Supporting Youth Employment: this workstream will provide in-service training opportunities that technical education and vocational training (TVET) trainers can access using remote and distance learning to improve the quality of their teaching.
  3. Building Resilience in Pacific Education Systems: this will focus on building the Ministries’ capacity to maintain disaster recovery back up servers and update or upgrade systems to host and recover data after natural disasters. This workstream also allows USP’s Centre for Flexible Learning to contribute to the development of the MFAT funded e-learning for Science resource repository and ongoing maintenance as the ‘long term’ home for this tool.
  4. Building Education Lessons and Insights: this workstream focuses on supporting activities including evaluation and research to identify how ODFL is operating in a Pacific context and can be used to improve education outcomes.

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