The 10th Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF10) was held in Calgary, Canada from September 14th to 16th, 2022, bringing ministers of education, university vice-chancellors, senior officials, plus a range of educators and open and distance learning (ODL) practitioners from around the Commonwealth and beyond.
PCF10 Day 2 featured the Inaugural address by the Hon. Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, Prime Minister of Samoa. Introduced to the stage by Professor Asha Kanwar, President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning, the Prime Minister of Samoa spoke of the impact climate change is having on small island nations in the Pacific.
She outlined how a state of emergency due to a measles outbreak in November 2019 had a major impact on education in the country. This was compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, which prompted another state of emergency.
With the support of national and donor investments, the country promoted effective remote learning, which in turn increased the reliance on learning technologies. But poor access to the internet and lack of familiarity with the technology presented challenges.
“Our experience with Covid-19 and our ongoing fight with climate change, and its impacts on our people and infrastructure, reinforce our conviction of the importance of technology and open, distance, and online learning for providing access to quality education,” Mata’afa said.
The Prime Minister also noted that disruptions in education have been ongoing, and more investment is needed for education. ODL is a necessity for Samoa to build a more robust and resilient education system and create sustainable management for present and future generations.