Partnership for Open, Distance and Flexible Learning in the Pacific

"When ODFL is working effectively, it promotes education and learning with a “focus on opening access to education and training provision, freeing learners from the constraints of time and place, and offering flexible learning opportunities to individuals and groups of learners.” (UNESCO 2002)

Open, distance and flexible learning (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 opportunities in rural and outer island locations. Despite the importance of ODFL to the region and the immediate need to build capacity, there has been limited investment. 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.

With funding from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, COL launched the Partnership for ODFL in the Pacific project. Together with the Pacific Centre for Flexible and Open Learning for Development (PACFOLD), its regional centre in the Pacific, COL supports enhancing capacity and efficiency of education sectors in the Pacific through greater use of innovative delivery mechanisms and technology by focusing on the following four areas:

  1. Immediate response to COVID-19
  2. Supporting Youth Employment
  3. Building Resilience in Pacific Education Systems
  4. Building education lessons and insights

COL believes that the success of the Partnership for ODFL in the Pacific project will lead to three outcomes:

  • Education continuity supported through natural disasters and other emergency situations;
  • More equitable access to learning and training opportunities resulting in improved employability, reduced unemployment and enhanced opportunities for entrepreneurship, including for young people, especially women and persons with disabilities (PWD);
  • Increased access to relevant, high-quality and contextualised tools and resources that improve the effectiveness and efficiency of education systems in Pacific Commonwealth countries