17 October 2015 High-Level Policy Forum in Pretoria, South Africa

A Perspective on the Outcomes of the Regional Roundtables at the 17 October 2015 High-Level Policy Forum in Pretoria, South Africa

Participants: Prof. Roumen Nikolov, PhD; Hristo Tutunarov, PhD

Higher Education for the Sustainable Future We Want.
The Way Ahead for Online, Open and Flexible Learning: Opportunities and Actions

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations in September 2015 recognizes learning as an engine for individual, social, and economic development, articulating 17 goals, one of which states: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. The targets associated with this goal emphasize access, equity, quality, affordability, skills for employment, literacy, and the skills to promote sustainable development – for all levels of education from pre-primary to university and include both formal and informal approaches to education.

Within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the High-Level Policy Forum was organized by the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE), UNESCO, the Commonwealth of Learning, and the Open Education Consortium. The Forum was hosted by the University of South Africa (UNISA) in Pretoria the day after the International Council for Open and Distance Education 26th World Conference in October 2015, and is the third leg of a systematic, three-part process, which included very productive forums in Bali (2014) and Paris (2015).
One hundred and thirty leaders from higher education, governments, nongovernmental organizations, associations, international organizations, and global and regional networks gathered to identify, on a regional basis, how to turn online, open and flexible education’s potential contribution to sustainable development into action and change. And the High-Level Policy Forum in Pretoria did indeed accomplish that.