It is with great pleasure that I announce and welcome delegates to the 34th Annual Conference of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU 2021), which is being organized by the Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL), to be held from 1st to 3rd of June 2021 in the beautiful island of Sri Lanka.
The Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) is the premier distance education institution in Sri Lanka providing higher educational opportunities to a large spectrum of students in the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode. Being an institution that promotes lifelong learning, there is no strict admission criteria, other than being over 18 years of age, with the entry point to the university being decided by the prior qualifications of the applicant. The OUSL celebrated its forty (40) years of existence in the year 2020 as a progressive and inclusive educational institution.
The theme of the AAOU 2021 conference is “Opening minds for a sustainable future: Re-orienting ODL to surmount challenges”. This theme relates to the concept of holistic and transformational education as defined by UNESCO including the following:
- Learning content and outcomes that empower informed decisions and responsible actions on critical issues such as climate change, biodiversity, disaster risk reduction.
- Pedagogy and learning environments that focus on learner-centred teaching enabling exploratory, action oriented and transformative learning.
- Engagement in learning and promoting core competencies such as critical and systematic thinking, collaborative decision making, and taking responsibility for present and future generations.
- Empowerment of learners of any age, in any educational context, to transform themselves and the society they live in.
These address the Education 2030 Agenda of UNESCO, targeting the Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) aiming to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all:
It is our belief that the 34th Annual Conference of AAOU will provide the much-needed forum for Open and Distance Learning (ODL) practitioners, leaders, experts, influencers, providers and decision makers to discuss opportunities, possibilities and challenges, and exchange views and ideas in relation to the progression in achieving the goals of SDG.
Once again on behalf of the Open University of Sri Lanka and Asian Association of Open Universities I look forward to seeing you all at AAOU 2021 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Professor S. Anbahan Ariadurai
The Open University of Sri Lanka