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Samoan Minister of Education launches PACFOLD

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PACFOLD is hosted by The University of the South Pacific (USP) at its Laucala Campus.

The University has provided PACFOLD with the first Director and office space while Commonwealth of Learning (COL) will provide funds for its activities, and an Advisory Board will provide overall governance of the new Centre.

In launching the Centre, the Honourable Minister congratulated the President and CEO of COL Professor Asha Kanwar for her leadership in establishing PACFOLD.

Honourable Magele said he was confident that the Centre would play a significant role in helping Pacific Island Countries (PIC’s) in their educational and sustainable development efforts.

“We value the work that COL is doing in the Pacific, and I will personally champion the cause of flexible learning and the role of COL,” he said.

He also praised the role of USP in assisting PIC’s. “We are proud of the work that USP is doing in the region and as an institution it is flexible, and responds well to member country needs”, Honourable Magele said.

Meanwhile, Professor Kanwar said PACFOLD was structured along the lines of other COL Centres in other regions and acknowledged the support of the relevant stakeholders, and USP for its willingness to be the host institution.

USP Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra said there were enormous opportunities available to the Pacific countries in terms of new pedagogies, new technologies and partnerships, and USP was very happy to partner with COL in hosting PACFOLD.

“The Missions of USP and COL synergize extremely well, and we are pleased to join with COL to make new opportunities available to our member countries. We assure everyone that USP will be an excellent host and help deliver on expectations of our stakeholders,” Professor Chandra said.

Dr Alison Mead Richardson, Education Specialist for Technical Vocational Skills Development of COL shared her experience of setting up PACFOLD by getting the stakeholders together. She said a participatory approach was taken to  conceptualise what the Centre should which included consultative meeting in Vanuatu in 2013 attended by 8 countries, including COL  Focal Points, NGOs, women and media groups and development partners. “The PACFOLD Advisory Board has been established and is chaired by Professor Rajesh Chandra which will oversee the Centre’s strategic activities,” Dr Mead Richardson said.

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PACFOLD Director Hasmukh Lal, whose substantive post is Director of Pacific TAFE at USP, said he had a passion for flexible learning which had transformed his life and could do the same for thousands of others in the Pacific. “One of the priorities of the Centre will be to develop regional open and distance learning policy and national policy templates,” he said.

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