Plenary Hall, 28 November: COL conferred the title of Honorary Fellow on seven outstanding individuals in recognition of their contributions to distance education in areas such as leadership and service, published works including courseware, lectures and presentations, and mentorship.

They are Mr Martin Bean, Prof Rajesh Chandra, Dr Luz Longsworth, Prof Dr Naveed A Malik, Prof Tolly Mbwette, Prof Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang and Chetna Sinha.

With the exception of Chetna, the rest have long and distinguished careers as educators, contributing significantly to the human capital development in their respective countries. Mr Bean is currently the Vice-Chancellor and President of RMIT, Australia, Prof Chandra helms the University of the South Pacific as its Vice-Chancellor , Prof Malik is Rector of Virtual University, Pakistan, while Prof Mbwette was the former Vice-Chancellor of Open University Tanzania.

Dr Longsworth is well-recognised as an academic leader, gender activist and an advocate for emancipation through education. She is the Principal and Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies.

Prof Opoku-Agyemang is noted for being the first female Vice-Chancellor of a state university in Ghana. In her current role as Education Minister, she is engaged in a number of key initiatives which aim to improve access, scale up quality, restructure school management and demystify the notion that only a select few can access the top schools in Ghana.

Sinha is the Founder and President of Mann Deshi Mahila Microfinance Bank and its non-profit sister, Mann Deshi Foundation. Highly regarded as an icon of social change in some of the poorest and drought-stricken areas of rural India, Sinha uses her two institutions to implement development initiatives that have brought about lasting transformation to the lives of thousands of marginalised women and girls. She aims to support one million women entrepreneurs by 2025 through her micro-finance initiatives that target India’s rural population.

The honour is limited to citizens of Commonwealth countries and designations are for life.