The 4th Conference of Vice-Chancellors/Rectors in SAARC countries, 18th-19th February 2003, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Conference Colombo, Sri Lanka - 18th February 2003
SAF Governing Council Meeting
Seated left to right: Uma Coomaraswamy, Vice-Chancellor, Open University of Sri Lanka; Salima Hashmi, Chairperson, SAF-Pakistan; Kamal Hossain, Chairperson, SAF-Bangladesh; Madanjeet Singh, SAF Founder; H.E. Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, President of Sri Lanka; Lakshman Kadirgamar, Chairperson, SAF-Sri Lanka; Jeet Singh, SAF Advisor; Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup, Chairperson SAF-Bhutan; I.H. Zaki, Chairperson, SAF-Maldives; Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, Chairperson SAF-Nepal.

Vice-chancellors (unless otherwise indicated) standing from left to right: Mohsen Tawfik (UNESCO Regional Director) New Delhi; Usha Singh, Nalanda Open University (Bihar); D. P. Singh, U.P. Rajarshi Tandon Open University (Allahabad); G.S. L Devra, Kota Open University (Rajasthan); Surabhi Banerjee, Netaji Subhas Open University (Kolkata); Altaf Hussain, Alama Iqbal Open University (Pakistan); Pema Kinley, Director General of Education of Bhutan; Jamilur Reza Choudhry, BRAC University (Bangladesh); Ershadul Bari, Bangladesh Open University; Suresh Garg (Pro-Vice-Chancellor) Indira Gandhi Open University (India); Hom Nath Bhatterai (Member Secretary) UGS, Kathmandu; V.S. Prasad, Dr B. R. Ambedkar Open University (Hyderabad); R.K. Singh, Madhya Pradesh Bhoj Open University (Bhopal); N. S. Ramegowda, Karnataka State Open University (Mysore); and B. P. Sabale, Y. Chavan Maharashtra Open University (Nashik).


Time-bound plan of action adopted by SAFLIs Academic Council and approved by SAF Chairpersons at the Second General Conference of South Asia Foundation.

1. The Vice-Chancellors/Rectors of Open Universities and Representatives of other Institutions in the SAARC countries assembled for the Second General Conference of South Asia Foundation in Colombo (18th-19th February 2003) do hereby resolve as follows:

2. The SAF Learning Initiative (SAFLI), jointly developed by its Steering Committee members at the two previous meetings in France (28th - 29th September 2002) and Bangladesh (12th - 13th December 2002), and endorsed by the Vice Chancellors of Open Universities in India (24th - 25th November 2002), is hereby formally adopted to promote lifelong, secular learning that emphasises humanism and celebrates the rich heritage of South Asia's unity in diversity at all levels and sections of society.

3. With IT and computer literacy rapidly becoming part of the life and culture of young people, courses on South Asian Studies may be transmitted online and through television, while at the same time continuing to employ the conventional methods of using video and books to deliver distance education.

4. SAFLI will offer a Post-Graduate Diploma in Environment and Sustainable Development (PGD-ESD), together with optional IT courses for students to choose from for added credits. Additional courses such as on human rights and studies in gender justice will be developed in subsequent phases.
The target date for launching the PGD-ESD is 12th December 2003.
AIlama Iqbal Open University, Pakistan offered to host the meeting for formal launching; the final decision will be made at appropriate time.

5. In connection with SAF's on-line learning initiatives, the meeting accepted a proposal by Mr. Jeet Singh that a design / engineering team be established to (a) understand the real needs or audiences that might be served by an online system, and (b) if these can be identified, to design & cost estimate a first functional example of the system. It is estimated that a design team can be established by 1st May 2003 to complete a design by 1st August 2003.

6. Besides PGD-ESD courses, basic education for the deprived communities and teacher training with local input will receive special attention to achieve the widest possible reach. SAFLI will cooperate with such NGOs that are working for the much needed education of abandoned children as, for example, Maiti-Nepal and the fifty SOS villages which SOS-Kinderdorf International has established in South Asia. It is from grassroots projects that regional cooperation essentially draws its enormous strength to build a future of peace and stability in harmony with Nature.

7. SAF will endeavor to link various institutions engaged in South Asian Studies with SAF Documentation Centre (SAFDIC Online). A network of databases would accelerate research and avoid wasteful duplication of books and documents.

8. In conformity with its Charter, the SAF will make a matching contribution of funds to SAFLI distance education courses delivered by the Open Universities/Institutions in order to foster a sense of responsibility and local ownership. However, in order to give the courses a good start, SAF will fully fund the first PGD-ESD modules.

9. The cost estimates for design, development of multiple media course materials were discussed and it was agreed that for a course of some 350 pages for up to 1,000 copies, 1 video & 2 audio, SAFLI will, through its SAF Chairperson, provide a sum of US$ 18,000/for each course. For 9-10 courses, the total cost will be about US$ 180,000.

10. SAFLI courses will bear the SAF logo together with the logo of the University/Institution delivering distance education. Each course will be headed by a brief description: South Asia Foundation (SAF) is a voluntary, secular, non-profit and non-political youth movement of regional cooperation through education and sustainable development among SAARC countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. SAF Learning Initiative (SAFLI) is designed to promote lifelong, secular learning that emphasises humanism and celebrates the rich heritage of South Asia's unity in diversity at all levels and sections of society.

11. Participating Open Universities and Institutions will each nominate a Programme Coordinator and an IT Coordinator who would interact among themselves, with IT Coordinators of SAF Chapters in their own countries as well as with the SAFLI IT Coordinator (currently Mr. Zaheer Alam Kidvai).


12. The Vice-Chancellors/Rectors will be responsible for securing approval for SAFLI participation from their respective University Academic Councils and other educational bodies as may be required under their statutes and regulations.

13. The activities and progress of SAFLI will be continuously monitored jointly by SAF Chapters and the participating Open Universities/institutions.

The overall SAFLI programme will be evaluated at the end of 2006 by an independent review committee appointed by SAF Chairpersons.

Should the results be unsatisfactory and not promote regional cooperation among SAARC countries, then the SAF shall have the right to withdraw its support to SAFLI.

14. The SAFLI Governing Council will comprise the seven Chairpersons of SAF Chapters and Ambassador Madanjeet Singh / Mr. Jeet Singh.

15. The SAFLI Steering Committee will comprise:

(i) Ambassador Madanjeet Singh/ Mr. Jeet Singh and his nominee.
(ii) A nominee of UNESCO Director-General.
(iii) One Vice-Chancellor/Rector from one National Open University in each SAARC country. For India, one additional vice-Chancellor of State Open Universities by rotation [in order of its establishment]
(iv) a nominee of the Chairperson of the SAF Chapters in countries without an Open University viz. Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives.
(v) SAFLI Content Coordinator (currently Prof. Suresh Garg).

16. SAFLI will have an Academic Council comprising:
(i) Ambassador Madanjeet Singh/ Mr. Jeet Singh and his nominee
(ii) A nominee of UNESCO Director-General.
(iii) Vice-Chancellors/Rectors of Open Universities and other Institutions of distant education in SAARC countries
(iv) One Programme and one IT Coordinator from each University/ Institution
(v) One member each from the institutions / NGOs associated with SAFLI
(vi) SAFLI Content Coordinator.

SAFLI Academic Council

Dr. Abdul Waheed Khan, Representative,UNESCO Director General, Paris.
Prof. Jamilur Reza Choudhry, VC, BRAC University, Bangladesh.
Prof. Ershadul Bari, VC, Bangladesh Open University, Dhaka.
Dr. lagar Dorji, Director, National Institute of Education, Bhutan.
Prof. H.P. Dikshit, VC, Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi.
Prof. Suresh Garg, Pro-VC, Indira Gandhi Open University, New Delhi.
Dr. Hassan Hameed, Maldives Collage for Higher Education, Maldives.
Prof. Suresh Raj Sharma, Vice Chancellor, Kathmandu University, Nepal
Prof. Hom Nath Bhattarai, Member Secretary, U.G.S. Kathmandu.
Prof. Altaf Hussain, VC, Alama Iqbal Open University, Pakistan.
Prof. Khalid Aftab, VC, Government College University, Lahore, Pakistan.
Prof. Naveed Malik, Rector, Virtual University of Pakistan.
Prof. Uma Coomaraswamy, VC, Open University of Sri Lanka.
Prof. V.S. Prasad, VC, Dr. B R Ambedkar Open University, Hyderabad.
Prof. K.D. Vasava, VC, Dr. B. Ambedkar Open University, Ahmedabad.
Prof. Surabhi Banerjee, VC, Netaji Subhas Open University, Kolkata.
Prof. G.S.L. Devra, VC, Kota Open University, Kota, Rajasthan.
Prof. R.K. Singh, VC, Madhya Pradesh Bhoj Open University, Bhopal.
Prof. (Ms.) Usha Singh, VC, Nalanda Open University, Bihar.
Prof. D.P. Singh, VC,U. P. Rajarshi Tandon Open University, Allahabad.
Prof. N.S. Ramegowda, VC, Karnataka State Open University, Mysore.
Prof. B.P. Sabale, VC, Y. Chavan Maharashtra Open University, Nashik.