Becoming transformational leaders

[26-28 April, 2019]

Thirty-five participants from 22 countries attended the 2nd Pan-Commonwealth Workshop on “Women’s Leadership in Open Distance Learning (ODL)” held at the WOU main campus from April 26th to 28th to share experiences and learn about transformational leadership.

Participants pose with the speakers.

Participants pose with the speakers.

The women were top academics and senior management staff of various higher learning institutions from the following Pacific and Caribbean countries: Bangladesh, Belize, Fiji, Ghana, Guyana, Jamaica, Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Uganda, Zambia, and Malaysia.

The three-day workshop was jointly organised by WOU and the Canada-headquartered Commonwealth of Learning (COL). The lead facilitator was Prof Dato’ Dr Rashidah Shuib from the School of Health Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).

Prof Rashidah of Universiti Sains Malaysia facilitates the workshop.

Prof Rashidah of Universiti Sains Malaysia facilitates the workshop.

The workshop aimed to recognise women leaders, motivate and equip women to become advocate for change, and champion gender mainstreaming to advance women’s leadership.

The keynote lecture on ‘Women’s Transformational Leadership in the Commonwealth’ was delivered by Prof Asha Kanwar, President and Chief Executive Officer of COL. She listed the four components of transformational leadership as charisma, inspiration, intellectual stimulation, and individualised consideration. Individualised consideration, she added, is “giving support and personal attention to the group members and helping them to develop self confidence”.

Prof Asha Kanwar, President and CEO of COL, delivers her keynote lecture.

Prof Asha Kanwar, President and CEO of COL, delivers her keynote lecture.

She shared the story of two women from different backgrounds who are leaders through what they accomplished. First was Dame Carol Kidu, who became Minister for Community Development in Papua New Guinea, established community learning centres, promoted lifelong learning, helped other women become leaders, and retired from politics to work in an NGO.

Another was Peria Jakkamal, an illiterate farmer from a remote village in India, who transformed herself, started self-help groups in her village, mobilised women in her community in lifelong learning, and promoted effective use of ICT among the illiterate community. 

Learning about the traits of transformational leaders.

Learning about the traits of transformational leaders.

Prof Kanwar said both the women were people-oriented, empathetic and respectful, broke free from traditional norms, effective negotiators, excellent networkers and communicators, and lifelong learners.

USM Vice Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Asma Ismail, in her special lecture on ‘Women’s Leadership in the Context of Industry 4.0 and Society 5.0 in Developing Societies’, spoke about the impact of the fourth industrial revolution and Society 5.0 on women in developing societies. She said that emerging technologies will displace 5 million jobs in the future but will also create 2 million new jobs.

Prof Asma, Vice Chancellor of USM.

Prof Asma, Vice Chancellor of USM.

She said females are 5 times less likely to consider a career in technology-based jobs than males, and therefore, as almost one-third of all jobs globally could be automated by 2030, “females are in big danger to be left behind”. She also mentioned the development of smart societies or Society 5.0 in Japan following Industry 4.0, with new services offered through artificial intelligence, robotics and Internet of Things.

Sharing on the impact of disruptive technologies on women.

Sharing on the impact of disruptive technologies on women.

The workshop also featured lectures and discussions on leading, new technologies in ODL, data analytics and interactive learning.   These were presented respectively by LEADERONOMICS country manager for Malaysia Caroline Ong, WOU Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic & Educational Technology) Prof Zoraini Wati Abas, School of Science & Technology Dean Assoc Prof Dr Wendy Bong, and Instructional Design for Engaging Experiences Assistant Manager Fauziyah Md Aris.

Prof Zoraini (left) with Prof Kanwar at the closing of the event.

Prof Zoraini (left) with Prof Kanwar at the closing of the event.

Below are a few testimonials from participants:

“I had a great time in your country. Thanks to all the presenters for the great presentations.”
- Florence Kauami, Programme Developer, Namibian College of Open Learning, Namibia

“Wow! The 2nd Pan-Commonwealth Training Programme on Women and Leadership in ODL was timely with beautiful faces and wonderful people.”
Roselyn Nyagie Kema Kappia, Procurement Officer, Freetown Teachers College, Sierra Leone

The participants come from 22 nations.

The participants come from 22 nations.

“Our chief host, thanks for all the hospitality. We enjoyed every minute in Penang, the people, cuisine and each and every participant’s story is unique.”
- Ubaida Faruk Shehu, Senior Education Officer, National Teachers’ Institute, Nigeria

“Thanks for all the cooperation and sharing of experience in this inspiring workshop.”
- Salote Talanoa Selui, Deputy Principal, Ministry for Education and Training, Tonga