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KNOU hosts UNESCO-UNITWIN Kick-Off Webinar, 26 March 2021

One of the very successful global knowledge platforms of UNESCO is the UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN program that fosters inter-university collaboration since 1992. Within the framework of this platform, the Korea National Open University (KNOU), the leader in Open and Distance Learning in South Korea was designated as UNITWIN host Institution in Open and Distance learning to lead institutional dialogue, facilitate capacity building, knowledge sharing and collaboration with Open Universities in the Asia and Pacific region and globally.  KNOU is strongly committed to building bridges and fostering collaboration among Open Universities in the region. In a strategic partnership with UNESCO Beijing, the Korea National Open University had been taking the lead in promoting exchange of innovative models in distance learning with Open Universities in South and East Asia region.  

On March 26th, 2021, KNOU hosted UNESCO-UNITWIN Kick-off Webinar with UNITWIN members: Hanoi Open University (Vietnam), Tribhuvan University (Nepal), Open University Malaysia (Malaysia) and Mongolian University of Science and Technology (Mongolia). The main objective of the Webinar was to facilitate exchange and collaboration among the UNITWIN Network in ODL led by KNOU. This webinar is timely and organized at a very challenging time because of COVID-19 pandemic, in the context of schools closures and education disruption, the Open and Distance learning Institutions have a very critical role to play at country and regional level. 

A total of 21 members participated at the webinar including the Keynote Speaker-Robert Parua, Education Programme Specialist at UNESCO Beijing Cluster Office for East Asia. 

In his Opening remark, Dr. Kim Yong, Director of Office of International Affairs at KNOU reiterated his Institution’s commitment towards advancing Open and Distance learning (ODL) in Asia Pacific region sharing its vast experience in ODL over several years. Director Yong was pleased to confirm the admission of two new members to join the UNITWIN network in ODL led by KNOU in 2021. The two institutions are Nepal Open University and Ho Chi Minh City Open University. He further reiterated the new members of the network will share good experience and best practices in distance education within the network.” It is good to see the increase in the number of Distance Education Institutions joining the UNITWIN Network in ODL led by KNOU to fulfill the vision and mission of UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN programme. 

In the keynote presentation at the KNOU UNITWIN Webinar, Robert Parua stated: “UNESCO assessments and situational analysis of COVID-19 impact in Education clearly highlighted that the Ministries of Education and high education institutions including distance and Open Universities as part of the education eco-system must innovate through crises by focusing on generating new strategies to ensure that no-child is left behind. The Open Universities have a lot of expertise and experience and the strategic partnership and collaboration with the Ministries of Education and open universities in all the Member States of UNESCO is very fundamental and critical.” 

Mr. Parua had also urged the participating Institutions to participate at the upcoming third World Conference in Higher Education scheduled for 7-9 October 2021 and encouraged the participating University contribute ideas on the role of Open and Distance learning in the post COVID-19 period and contributing to achieving SDG4 higher education targets by 2030. 

The representatives from the Open and Distance learning Universities of the network had exchanges in key challenges, successful models, best practices, knowledge sharing, future projects and plans to strengthen the UNITWIN project led by KNOU. The project teams led the discussions separately, followed by joint group discussion session during the webinar to finalize and agreed on the plan for 2021. The project leaders made presentations on 2021 plan for each specific project to strengthen activities related to Open and Distance learning and innovative digital solutions for learning. 

In the concluding session after the group presentations, Dr. Yang, Chang-yeul, Head of Team in Office of Int'l Affairs at KNOU, shared new program for network members and other plans for 2021. He also acknowledged and thanked the participating institutions for contributing to the discussion and agreed on the major projects for 2021 to deepen the partnership to strengthen Open and Distance learning within the framework of UNITWIN programme. 

About UNITWIN

The University Twinning and Networking (UNITWIN) program was launched in 1992 at the 26th session of UNESCO General Conference with the aim of promoting international inter-university cooperation and networking to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge sharing and collaborative work.

In 2017, KNOU was designated as the host institution for the UNITWIN to focus in Open and Distance Learning (ODL). The UNITWIN network aims to promote knowledge sharing, capacity building and successful models and experiences of distance education in higher education.

References:

Korean National Open University (KNOU): https://www.knou.ac.kr/knou/index.do?epTicket=LOG

UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Programme: https://en.unesco.org/themes/higher-education/unitwin

Third World Conference in Higher Education: https://en.unesco.org/news/world-higher-education-conference...

UNESCO Higher Education: https://en.unesco.org/themes/higher-education