Wawasan Open University made its presence notably visible at the 27th Annual Conference of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) in Islamabad, Pakistan from 1-3 October 2013, through its helming of the presidency and winning of awards.
The State Minister for Education, Training and Standards in Higher Education, Muhammad Baligh ur Rehman, opened the conference, while the closing was officiated by the President of Pakistan, Mr Mamnoon Hussain, who is also AIOU Chancellor.
As the current President of AAOU, Prof Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye delivered his welcoming address to over 250 delegates from more than 60 institutions of higher learning in about 20 countries across Asia, UK, Europe, USA, Canada and Middle East. The Annual Conference themed “Leveraging the Power of Open and Distance Learning for Building a Divergent Asia: Today’s Solutions and Tomorrow’s Vision” was hosted by the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), Pakistan.
Among the countries represented were India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Pakistan and Malaysia. The delegates comprised vice chancellors, presidents, rectors, chief executives and academics from these member institutions.
The five sub-themes of the conference were: Emerging Trends in Open and Distance Learning; Building a Global Future through Research and Innovative Practices in ODL; ODL and Human Capacity Building; Technologies and Strategies for providing Education through ODL System; and Application of ODL in Various Disciplines.
The opening ceremony also witnessed former WOU Vice Chancellor Emeritus Prof Dr Wong Tat Meng being honoured with the prestigious 2013 AAOU Meritorious Service Award for the most deserving ODL practitioner from member institutions.
Prof Wong has played a very active role in the activities of AAOU. He helped to organise the AAOU conference at the Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK) in 1998. He was instrumental in bringing the conference to Penang and having it hosted by WOU in 2011. “During Prof Wong’s term of office as Secretary-General from 1999 to 2001, the reputation of AAOU as Asia’s leading ODL was greatly enhanced through his efforts to promote the Association and its programmes and activities, the setting up of the AAOU Website and the establishment of partnership arrangements with ICDE and other regional ODL bodies such as Commonwealth of Learning,” said Dr Andy Liew, AAOU secretary-general.
WOU also won the silver medal under the Young Innovator Award (YIA) category through academic Karen Khor Ean Teng from the School of Science and Technology. A total of 137 papers were presented at the conference. All six winning papers for the Best Paper Award and YIA will be published in the next issue of the AAOU Journal.
At the closing ceremony, Prof Ho handed over the AAOU flag in a symbolic gesture to the new president, Prof John Leong Chin Yan from OUHK, who takes over the helm for a three-year term from January 2014 to 2016. The AAOU Secretariat will also be relocated from WOU to OUHK accordingly.
The 28th edition of the AAOU Annual Conference next year will be hosted by the Open University of Hong Kong.