SWAKOPMUND: Deputy Minister of Education David Namwandi has called on Open and Distance Learning (ODL) practitioners and researchers to develop initiatives which would assist governments in addressing challenges experienced in education systems.
Namwandi extended this call during the opening ceremony of the 47th Distance Education Association of Southern Africa (DEASA) conference here on Friday.
The three-day conference is being held under the theme ‘Promoting Advocacy for Open and Distance Learning in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region’.
This is the third time Namibia hosts the event, which is being attended by representatives from a number of 13 SADC states.
The deputy minister said governments in different regions have made good progress and laid a solid foundation by achieving goals improving learning outcomes and the quality of education, to which ODL has made an immense contribution.
“It is now up to the practitioners to turn the SADC into a centre of excellence for ODL. We look upon you to experiment and develop approaches that can help governments address the challenges experienced in our education sectors,” Namwandi told the ODL practitioners in attendance at the conference.
He went on to say that conventional methods alone will not enable the expanding of educational opportunities, therefore new approaches are required to achieve the desired goals.
One such approach could be if the negative perception of ODL is changed through the delivery of quality programmes and strategic partnerships.
The Education Deputy Minister further indicated that it is vital for attention to be given to policies and planning if distance education is to live up to expectations in terms of the contribution it can make to the development of innovative and sustainable education systems.
“In Namibia we have been proactive and have put policies in place geared towards supporting Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in schools and other educational institutions to support teaching, learning and research,” Namwandi stated.
He added that since it has been proven that the usage of technology can cut costs to make quality education more affordable, SADC countries are making a conscious move to embrace ICT in education and training.
He said he expects the conference to pass resolutions aimed at enhancing the future use of ODL, ICT and open educational resources in the regional education sector.
The conference was set to discuss sub-themes such as the National ODL Policy Frameworks, ODL Governance and Management, Resources Mobilisation for ODL, ODL Quality Assurance and Qualifications, and Impact Assessment of ODL Provisions.