Commonwealth of Learning

How Commonwealth of Learning enriches lives in impoverished countries

Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is an intergovernmental organization that promotes open, flexible, and technology-enabled learning. Created by Commonwealth Heads of Government in 1987, the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) helps Member States and institutions harness the potential of distance learning and technologies to expand access to education and training and address the education challenges of today. For COL, learning is the key to sustainable development and must lead to opportunities for economic growth, social inclusion and environmental conservation.

In 2019, COL Advisor for Skills Dr. Basheerhamad Shadrach and his team needed to transition learning partners and local NGO in those countries and empower its citizens.

Challenge: Close the educational opportunity gap in Southeast Asia and Africa

Technical, vocational, educational, and training (TVET) institutions in Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, and Bangladesh offer locals an opportunity to earn professional certifications or qualifications. Unfortunately, access to TVETs in these countries is limited.

“For every 100 people who apply for a TVET education, only five are admitted,” says Dr. Shadrach. “Without any formal education or training, those who are left out get on with their life and make some kind of livelihood. They end up as apprentices, informal workers, and semi-skilled laborers. And many end up trapped in poverty.”

Dr. Shadrach and his team at COL wanted to make those hopes and dreams of a better life become reality. “We have the mandate to help governments and institutions scale,” he says. “But there’s only so much they can do on their own.” TVET institutions lack the infrastructure and resources needed to accept more applicants.

But, according to Dr. Shadrach, these limitations could be overcome by switching from face-to-face to online training. With that in mind, they looked for a learning platform that would expand educational opportunities to those in need and empower them to control their destiny.

Solution: A platform and a partner to change 6,000 lives

Dr. Shadrach and his team evaluated national and international learning platforms. They hoped to find a solution that would serve a wide range of learners, allowing them to choose relevant subjects and learn at their own pace. “It was important to find a flexible online learning platform to help learners develop skills on demand,” says Dr. Shadrach.

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