NRN Fourth Regional Conference
Friday, 28 May, 2010, Houston, U.S – Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) in partnership with Canada Foundation for Nepal (CFFN) and the core proponents of the Open and Distance Education initiative, the Open University of Nepal (OUN), held a panel discussion on the OUN in order to generate feedback from the Nepalese Diaspora that can be used to refine and solidify its proposal. The core proponents comprise of Dr. Ambika Adhikari, Dr. Drona Rasali and Dr. Pramod Dhakal.
The workshop was introduced by Dr. Renu Khator, the chancellor of the University of Houston System and President of the University of Houston. She set the groundwork for the initial steps that need to be taken and offered her support and willingness to help in the proposed Open University initiative. The need for the Open University was eloquently presented by Dr. Frits Pannekoek, President of The International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) and President of Athabasca University. According to Dr. Pannekoek, 150 million new university positions need to be created over the next 10 years in order to meet the growing demand for tertiary education around the world. The only feasible way to meet this level of demand is through open and distance learning. Dr. Pannekoek said that the current model of providing post secondary education does not address the barriers to learning such as gender, income, geography and preparedness.
In the first session, Dr. Promod Dhakal introduced the concept of OUN and expressed the need for such endeavours due to expanding gap in higher educational attainment between rural and urban populations. He emphasized the benefit of Open University in reducing the brain drain from the least privileged area of Nepal.
In the second session, Dr. Ambika Adhikari presented the pre-business plan agenda for OUN. He proposed the partners and the institutional arrangements with government of Nepal as the owners.
In the third session, Dr. Drona Rasali presented the preliminary open and distance learning design for Nepal. He gave an overview on methods of teaching, methods of content delivery and evaluation.
The workshop was chaired by Dr. Renu Khator, University of Houston; Dr. Mohammed Ali, University of Athabaska; His Excellency Shankar Sharma, Ambassador to the USA; His Excellency Gyan Chandra Acharya, Ambassador to the UN; and Dr. Upendra Mahatwo, NRNA.
The Workshop for Open University of Nepal was able to gather constructive feedback from many Nepali and non-Nepali academics. To highlight some, suggestions were made to start with a pilot project of training teachers first, taking risk analysis of each and every component, need to have transparent, simple and clearly developed course package, and the need for partnership with various organizations with similar goals.
NRN Fourth Annual Regional Conference continues to 30th of May.