THE COMMONWEALTH OF LEARNING LOOKING AHEAD TO CHOGM 1999
The Commonwealth of Learning (COL), established by Commonwealth Heads of Government in 1987 as a response to declining mobility of students between Commonwealth countries, has evolved into one of the world's leading distance learning providers. While its early years created the impression that its preoccupation was with post-secondary education, over the past three years COL has shifted its focus to basic education and to non-formal education, technical education and youth programmes. Increasing demands and an uncertainty over long-term funding placed COL's future in doubt. But the implementation of triennial funding pledges after the 1997 Commonwealth education ministers' conference in Botswana and support from more Commonwealth countries, together with success in attracting resources through initiatives with other agencies, has enabled it to concentrate on its objectives. Its use of distance learning and the new communications technologies will enable vast numbers of people to be educated and equipped with the means to develop their skills in a way that conventional education cannot.