Commonwealth of Learning

Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

Hosted by the Government of Canada and headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is the world’s only intergovernmental organisation solely concerned with the promotion and development of distance education and open learning. COL helps developing Commonwealth countries increase their access to learning using distance education and appropriate technologies.

In 1987, Commonwealth Heads of Government received a report entitled, Towards a Commonwealth of Learning: A proposal to create the University of the Commonwealth for Co-operation in Distance Learning. Based on the findings of that report and a subsequent one from a working group chaired by John Daniel, leaders agreed to establish a Commonwealth institution to encourage the development and sharing of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources and technologies.

Their vision was that the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) should be in the vanguard of using ODL and information and communication technology (ICT) developments to meet the Commonwealth’s education and training needs, helping member states optimise their potential and develop their human capital through extending quality education access to remote regions, and to people with limited or no face-to-face learning options.

COL became operational in 1989. From the beginning, COL has received a significant overall level of funding, co-operation and support from developing countries. More than two decades since COL’s inception, Commonwealth Heads of Government and Ministers of Education recognise that it is in part due to the efforts of COL and a wide international network of partners that distance education is now part of the mainstream of education and training. Today there is at least one distance learning operation in each of the Commonwealth’s member states, including middle and lower-income countries.

Mission Statement:
The Commonwealth of Learning helps governments expand the scale efficiency and quality of learning by using appropriate technologies, particularly those that support open and distance learning (ODL).

Strategic goals:
Quality education for all Commonwealth citizens
Human resource development in the Commonwealth
Harnessing ODL and technologies to achieve development goals

Impact statement:
A substantial and equitable increase in the number of Commonwealth citizens acquiring the knowledge and skills for leading productive and healthy lives, through formal and non-formal open and distance learning opportunities.

Useful Links