Call for Participation on Symposium at 4th Regional Conference of NRNA

NRNA is organizing a day long symposium, “Distance Learning and Access to Education in Nepal” from 8:30AM to 5:30PM on Friday, May 28, 2010 during its 4th Regional Conference to be held on 28-30 May, 2010. The program is being held at Houston Marriot Westchase Hotel, 2900 Briarpark Dr, Houston TX USA. The symposium The symposium has three segments, the first segment is devoted to developing business blueprint for the Open University of Nepal and the second segment to develop educational blueprint of the university. The third segment has been devoted to is devoted to select knowledge exchange initiatives embarked within NRNA that have potential to contribute to the Open University initiative in the long run. NRNA requests you to participate in the symposium and contribute in the development of the blueprint for the university.

Open University of Nepal – Call for Participation

Symposium on
Distance Learning and Access to Education in Nepal
Houston Marriot Westchase Hotel, 2900 Briarpark Dr, Houston TX 77042 USA
Friday, 28 May 2010, 8:30AM – 5:30PM

Nepal is at the crossroad of tradition and information-age. Not only its urban population but also its rural, remote, and disadvantaged population has come face to face with the information world due to foreign employment and increasing spread of technology away from major cities. While the exposure to new possibilities has brought a surge in demand for higher education, the access to higher education is severely limited, firstly, due to shortage of institutional capacity to meet the demand for quality higher education and, secondly, due to family, financial and resource constraint of rural, remote, and marginalized population. Rural population faces other problems as well. Both governmental and non-governmental employees working in rural and remote areas are unable to gain higher education opportunities deemed essential for knowledge and skills upgrade, embracing of emerging fields, and job promotion if they continue to serve in those places. Young people are taking short-term or temporary employment in foreign countries and, in doing that, they are unable to advance their educational goals and are facing barriers in career advancement. Those who can afford are going to distant countries at an exuberant cost in search of quality education.

At the same time, there is no shortage of goodwill amongst diaspora Nepalese (NRNs) and friends of Nepal, who are making efforts to bring improvements in select schools and colleges through infrastructure, libraries, scholarships, trust-funds, knowledge content contributions, offering of courses, and even tutoring learners. What is lacking today is an institutional mechanism to systemically integrate individual knowledge contributions to build into a body of formal and employable knowledge, assure qualities, provide accreditation, and make them available to all concerned knowledge seekers. There is no mechanism to formally network the NRNs and international friends possessing transferable knowledge, education, and skills,  the knowledge producers and teachers of Nepal, and the knowledge seekers of Nepal, for the purpose of advancing higher education. The situation persists despite ample possibilities opened by advancements made in information and communication technology (ICT) and open and distance learning principles, tools and technologies. Time is ripe for embracing distance education because even institutions of industrialized countries are increasingly using computer assisted and simulated environments to teach from the theoretical fields like mathematics to mission critical of fields like genetics, pilot training and medical surgery.

With an intention of facilitating the establishment of permanent institution of open and distance learning for serving the whole of Nepal, NRNA is organizing a symposium of Nepalese diaspora, international experts in education, and institutional development, and representatives of the GoN. We invite researchers, scholars and thinkers to bring in expert opinions and ideas in their fields of strengths and assemble in Houston to develop a blueprint for establishing Open University of Nepal.

SESSION – I

Part – I

Open University of Nepal: A Business-Blueprint for Its Making
Time: 8:30AM – 12:30PM

An institution exclusively dedicated to open and distance learning was identified as a means for solving the problem of cost, quality, and mass-access in higher education by Ministry of Education (MoE) in Nepal after looking at the success of such institutions in other countries. MoE was able to acquire budget for the purpose of establishing an Open University in 2008. Yet, there has been no concrete action taken due to various reasons.

That, more number of Nepalese with advanced degrees and international credence live in industrialized countries than in Nepal, it is the duty of the diaspora and organization like NRNA to take leadership in helping Nepal emulate the successes achieved in distance education by countries like the UK, Canada, Australia and the USA. NRNs have the responsibility to help Nepal avert the anxiety of potential lackluster performances primarily stemming from the perception of poor performance by some open universities of neighboring countries. This could be done by harnessing talents of diaspora and international well-wishers from where they are and what they are doing well today. There is an excellent opportunity for NRNs to help Nepal build an institution with high quality-standards as achieved by world’s leading distance learning institutions at a much reduced cost and help meet the need of the 21st century economy of Nepal and its environ. Such institution could make quality education accessible to the masses, including rural, remote, and marginalized population. The university could also uplift primary and secondary education by teaching and training school teachers.

The first part of the symposium will concentrate on the business side of the institution building. This will have the following focal areas:

  1. Conceptual Framework of ODL: Journey from Gurukul to Virtual University a matter of Market Need
  2. Economic Paradigm: The World of Cost, Quantity and Quality, and societal outcomes
  3. Business Planning and Financing: Making of an Institution, Infrastructure, Mass-Access, and its Future
  4. Internal and International Collaboration: Partnership Development, Content, Learning and Research

Part- II

Open University of Nepal: An Educational-Blueprint for its Making
Time: 1:30AM – 2:30PM

This part of the symposium will concentrate on the educational side of the institution building. More specifically, the aspects of programs, curriculum, course design, collaborative source development and delivery, and institutional evolution for remaining relevant to changing societal needs. This will have the following focal areas:

  1. Institutional Programming: Program Selection and Development, Course Development, and International Accreditation
  2. From Post Office to Mobile Technology: Resources, Opportunities, Barriers, and Mitigation for mass delivery
  3. Management of Content and Learning: Use of Tools, Technologies and Expert Collaboration in Content Management and Learning Management
  4. A Matter of Growth: Institutional Strengthening, Expansion, Extension, and Long term Success

Workshop Facilitators:

  1. Dr. Mahendra Nath Lohani, Vice-President, Heifer International, Mahendra.Lohani@heifer.org, (Lead Facilitator)
  2. Dr. Drona Rasali, Provincial Health Epidemiologist, Gov. of Saskatchewan, drona.rasali@gmail.com, 306-584-0639

SESSION- II

Building and Strengthening Knowledge Exchange through ICT
Time: 2:30PM – 5:30PM

In Session I and II, we dealt with the core issues of institution building with an inter-generational horizon in mind. Here in this part, we deal with constituent aspect of distance learning through the use of ICT and NRN talent, that could be implemented immediately in collaboration with existing schools and colleges in Nepal. Nevertheless, these works will, in the end, fully contribute in the larger endeavor of building permanent institutional capacity in Nepal in delivering education in a way to bring access to education to rural, remote and disadvantaged population.

    1. ICT and E-Library in Science Education in Nepal: Roshendra D Khadka, UK and Dr. Raju Adhikari, Australia
    2. Short-term Skills Training through Distance Education: Dr. Kamal Adhikari, Japan
    3. New Frontiers of Collaborative Formal Education: Distance Learning and Double Degree Master’s Programs: Dr. Krishna C. Prasad, Netherlands
    4. Science for People: Advances in Learning Health and Medicine – Dr. Raju Adhikari, Australia

Session Chair:

Dr. Jeetendra Joshee, Dean, College of Continuing and Professional Education, California State University,  jjoshee@ccpe.csulb.edu, 562-985-8330

Note: Topics that could fit with these themes include, but are not restricted to, transparency, innovation, accountability, competitiveness, risk mitigation, adaptability, investment models, human resource development,  women education, resources management and infrastructural evolution.

About Program Format:

On each topic there will be introductory presentation from the task-force and a round table discussions to collect the participant inputs in writings, flip-charts, and recordings of conversations. However, any substantial contributions could be made in writing in advance by April 30, 2010 so that such suggestions could be incorporated by the task force in the introductory presentations.

We invite and welcome you to participate in the symposium whether or not you have a written submission to make, and whether you want to be a discussant or an observer. This symposium is a forum for free thinkers who debate and devise plan for the mission of improving access to quality education in Nepal. This is an academic forum of openly discursive format and not a lecture and question–answer type. The panelists will set the theme for the debate, manage the discussions, and gather advices and ideas useful for advancing the mission.

Organizing Team:

  1. Dr. Pramod Dhakal, pdhakal@cffn.ca, 613-596-6692
  2. Dr. Prahlad D Pant, everest@PDPassociates.com, 770-986-4484
  3. Dr. Tulsi Dharel, tdharel@fastmail.fm, 416-421-9677
  4. Dr. Ambika Adhikari, ambika.adhikari@post.harvard.edu, 480-735-4429
  5. Dr. Drona Rasali, drona.rasali@gmail.com, 306-584-0639

Contact:

Dr. Pramod Dhakal
Canada Foundation for Nepal
33 Bellman Drive
Ottawa, ON K2H 9S3
Email: pdhakal@cffn.ca
Phone:613-596-6692

Web: openu.cffn.ca

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