Contributor(s)Commonwealth of Learning
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AbstractIt is a very different world from when COL was first established. When Commonwealth Heads of Government met in Vancouver in 1987, they decided to create an organisation that would use distance learning and information and communication technologies (ICTs) to promote education and training in Member States and to strengthen Commonwealth cooperation. In 1987, COL started out with the mandate to strengthen higher education using open and distance learning (ODL). With the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Education for All (EFA) goals in 2000, COL aligned its work to the global development agenda. In the last 27 years, there has been a clear progression from higher education, teacher training and secondary education in the formal education sector to nonformal learning related to skills development, agriculture and health. In short, COL paid attention to the learning and development needs of its stakeholders and embraced a lifelong learning perspective. The theme of COL’s previous two strategic plans was “Learning for Development,” which focused on how education and learning add value to the development process. That approach encouraged COL to think beyond outputs to outcomes. COL has grown and developed from being an organisation with an output orientation to one that is outcomes based. The post-2015 education agenda reflects the organisation’s further evolution. COL is committed to promoting equitable access to quality lifelong learning for all — believing, in effect, that access to learning opportunities will lead to progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. COL’s new motto will therefore be “Learning for Sustainable Development,” which is also the theme of this Strategic Plan.