Plenary Hall, 30 November: After a fruitful three and a half days, PCF8 came to a close with the announcement of the 2016 Kuala Lumpur Declaration.
The Declaration recommended, among others, that governments, institutions, private sector and civil society promote lifelong learning that is open to people, places, methods and ideas.
In relation to ODL, they should also strive to reinforce market-driven skills development, encourage demand-driven and content-specific research, institutionalise quality education, support teacher education and in-service teacher training, and mainstream the use of open educational resources.
Participants from India, Nigeria and South Africa went on stage to express their views of the Forum as well as the Declaration. The need for rigorous advocacy and a multi-sectoral approach to propagate ODL as well as various ways to counter the challenges faced in providing a truly open education were discussed. Dr Linda Sissons, Chair of the Board of Governors of COL, commended the Pacific Centre for Flexible and Open Learning for Development (PACFOLD) for its work in promoting ODL in the Pacific islands. She also gave due recognition to the ministerial roundtable held the previous day.
PCF8 organising committee chairman, Prof Ramli Bahroom, read out the closing speech on behalf of OUM President/Vice-Chancellor, Prof Dato' Dr Mansor Fadzil.
Dato’ Mansor thanked the more than 500 participants who travelled from far and near to attend and participate in the Forum. He said the activities covered the salient aspects of the Forum and many of the papers presented had highlighted concerns and provided great insights on the use of ODL across the globe.
He said the Forum helped to stimulate thinking and action to promote and provide open, online and flexible learning in a much more accessible and inclusive manner. He appreciated the presence of the five ministers from Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, Seychelles and Swaziland who have stayed until the end of the Forum.
President and CEO of COL Prof Asha Kanwar summed up the takeaways and prospects of the Forum, highlighting the key message of each keynote speaker, which touched on the subthemes of access and inclusion, equity in learning, efficiency and effectiveness; and lastly, technology and innovation.
She talked about the differences between PCF7 and PCF8 before focusing on the road ahead, which according to Prof Kanwar would require stronger public-private partnership, implementation of the KL Declaration and the employment of ODL for sustainability.
The Forum ended in high spirits with a standing ovation for the winners of the Excellence in Distance Education Awards (EDEAs).