The Fourth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF4)
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Keynote Speakers

Sir John Daniel

Sir John Daniel, President and Chief Executive Officer, Commonwealth of Learning

Sir John Daniel, a world-renowned authority in open and distance learning, joined COL in June 2004 as President and Chief Executive Officer. He discovered distance education in the early 1970s during his first academic appointment at the University of Montreal where he began part-time study for a Masters in Educational Technology at Sir George Williams University and found his programme internship at the UK Open University to be a life-changing experience. He then spent four years helping to establish Québec's Télé-université, moved west to Alberta as Vice-President of Athabasca University and returned to Montreal in 1980 as Vice-Rector of Concordia University. In 1984 was appointed President of Laurentian University, Ontario and moved to the UK in 1990 as Vice-Chancellor of the Open University where he served for eleven years. In 2001 he joined UNESCO as Assistant Director-General for Education.

Sir John, who has been awarded 25 honorary doctorates, fellowships and professorships from universities in 15 countries, is a past President of both the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) and the Canadian Association for Distance Education (CADE) and also served as Vice-President of the International Baccalaureate Organisation. He is a citizen of both Canada and the UK.

Mr Winston Cox

Mr. Winston A. Cox, Alternate Executive Director for the Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, Inter-American Development Bank


Mr. Winston Cox joined the Inter-American Development Bank on 1 July 2006 as Alternate Executive Director for the Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago. Prior to his appointment to IADB's Board of Executive Directors, he served for six years as Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, responsible for Development Co-operation. He came to the Commonwealth Secretariat after completing an assignment with the International Monetary Fund on the impact of the publication of IMF staff reports on the economies of Fund members. Mr Cox served as Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados from 1997 to 1999 and, prior to that, held positions as an Alternate Executive Director in the World Bank and Director of Finance and Economic Affairs in the Barbados Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs.

Mr. Cox will deliver COL's Asa Briggs Lecture.


Professor Penina Mlama, Executive Director of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), member of COL's Board of Governors, Professor of Theatre Arts at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.


Professor Penina Mlama is Executive Director of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) and a member of COL's Board of Governors as the regional appointment for Africa. She is a Professor of Theatre Arts and former Head of Department, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Deputy Vice-Chancellor/Chief Academic Officer at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

She started the TUSEME (speak out) programme, currently operating in 22 secondary schools in Tanzania, which uses the Theatre for Development process to empower girls to overcome gender-related problems impacting negatively on their academic performance and personal development. In addition to her book Culture and Development: The popular theatre approach in Africa (Uppsala, 1991), where Dr. Mlama outlines some of her experiences in Theatre for Development, she has also published eight plays in Kiswahili and many articles in the areas of culture and development, theatre in education, creative writing, gender and girls' education.

With 33 chapters in sub-Saharan Africa, the Nairobi-based FAWE is engaged in improving access, retention and participation of girls in education in Africa.


Dr Sugata Mitra

Dr. Sugata Mitra, Senior Vice President (R&D), NIIT Limited, India


Dr. Sugata Mitra, Senior Vice President for Research and Development at NIIT Limited, India, has worked in the areas of cognitive and information science, educational technology, physics and energy for more than 20 years. His contributions include a number of inventions and first-time applications, including the database publishing industry (in particular, Yellow Pages in India and Bangladesh) and digital multimedia and internet-based education in India. He is credited with and, perhaps, best known for his hole-in-the-wall experiment, where slum dwellers, especially children, successfully learned computer applications through unsupervised access to technology.

Among his many awards and accolades, he was named the “Man for Peace” by the Together for Peace foundation (2001), won the “Best Social Innovation of 2000” award by the Institute for Social Inventions (UK), and in 2005, the Government of India awarded him the prestigious “Dewang Mehta Award for Innovation in Information Technology.” Dr. Mitra is an advisor to a number of government and other organisations in India, the USA and Australia.


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