Virtual university of small Commonwealth states-Open schooling launched here


 Mr Faure addressing guests at the ceremony on Friday

Speaking at the Education faculty of the University of Seychelles, Mont Fleuri, Vice-President Faure said the event is “very close to his heart” as he was one of its initiators as Minister for Education in 2000.
He said he is happy that the VUSSC model has evolved and through it, learners from any of the 34 small states of the Commonwealth are now able to learn together.

He recalled that the idea of Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth was initiated by a handful of ministers during the Commonwealth Conference of Education Ministers, held in Halifax, Canada.

The intention was to increase courses offered in building capacity of institutions in our small countries and enabling the transfer of credits and qualified people across borders through the creation of an accreditation system.

“They are separated by space, but not by time, as communication can be facilitated by technology in real time, thus overcoming geographical barriers,” said Mr Faure.

He added that through the training and course development workshops, better known as “boot camps” and organised in various countries including Seychelles, educators from different countries have enhanced their skills and expertise in open distance learning resources development.

In 2008, Seychelles joined five countries – Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Trinidad and Tobago and Zambia – to develop open education resources for open schooling.

The guest of honour at the gathering was Sir John Daniel, president and chief executive of the Commonwealth of Learning who has given a lot of support to the University of Seychelles.

Mr Faure thanked Mr Daniel for his “unwavering support”, adding “he has been able to translate his vision into virtual reality. What started as a ripple has turned into a wave.”

Before him, the president and vice-chancellor of the University of Seychelles, Dr Rolph Payet, talked about the concept of long distance learning in tertiary education of small states.

On the University of Seychelles itself, he recalled the words of President James Michel when the institution was launched in 2010. “We can no longer claim we are too small.”

According to Dr Payet, the over US $15 million spent on overseas university education for our students could no longer sustain our manpower development training needs.

The local VUSSC management committee is led by John Lesperance, now working as an education specialist.
Mr Lesperance introduced several other guest speakers from Samoa, Botswana, Lesotho, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, Malta, the South Pacific Board for Educational Assessment, who shared their experiences in open schooling.

Also a guest speaker was Jean-Michel Domingue, executive director of the Seychelles Qualifications Authority.

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