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Anshul Kharbanda: My visit to COL (Part 2)

By 21st February 20182 Comments7 min read


As the days passed by there were a series of meetings with different people at COL.

I met with Dr. Balasubramanian (Bala), Vice President, Commonwealth of Learning (COL). The meeting was held at Dr. Bala’s office on 16th January 2018 at 9:00 am. Dr. Johan Hendrikz, Senior Adviser: Open Schooling, Carol Walker, Programme Assistant and Alexis Carr, Research Coordinator also participated.

Dr. Bala welcomed all the participants for the meeting and appreciated my visit to COL. Dr. Hendrikz briefed us about the purpose of my visit to COL. He thanked NIOS for this innovative step of internship at COL and further creating a single window to contact NIOS.

Dr. Bala talked about various COL-NIOS projects that were done in the past. He suggested an Institutional Research with NIOS to study the impact of collaborations. He wished me all the best for my study visit at COL and future endeavours in strengthening COL-NIOS bond.


Meeting with Dr. Sandra Phelps, Education Specialist: Gender.

Dr. Sandra Phelps, Ms. Anshul Kharbanda, Dr. Johan Hendrikz

On 23rd January, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. Dr. Johan Hendrikz, Senior Adviser-Open Schooling organised the meeting in Dr Sandra’s office in which three of us participated. He briefed Dr. Sandra about NIOS and its various initiatives.

Dr. Sandra was very happy with the gender policy document and remarked that it is a comprehensive document and includes almost all aspects. She said that it is a complete document and requires no change though she has made some comments.

It was a fruitful meet and we left excited to work further on the suggestions.

Click here to read COL’s policy on gender.





Meeting with Dr. Sanjaya Mishra, Education Specialist: eLearning.

Dr. Sanjaya Mishra, Ms. Anshul Kharbanda

The meeting was organized by Dr. Johan Hendrikz, Senior Adviser: Open Schooling in Dr. Mishra’s office on 24th January 2018 at 15:00 hours.

Dr. Hendrikz briefed about the purpose of my visit to COL and mentioned the role of technology in open and distance learning. He added that NIOS has robust systems in place and needs to exhibit it.

Dr. Mishra has closely worked with NIOS for various initiatives and is well versed with its various processes. Some of his endeavours include setting up of Capacity Building cell (CBC) at NIOS Headquarters, Virtual Open Schooling initiative, Quality Assurance Policy etc. He remarked that the Capacity building cell of NIOS was developed for systematic development of open schooling in India and needs to focus on Personal Contact Programme (PCP), research training for NIOS staff and others and promote the use of OERs. He added that NIOS staff is accomplished and its time now for them to take responsibility and emerge as international leaders. He stressed on the need of research in NIOS and emphasised on creating strategy for research.

He left us enlightened to explore various areas where NIOS could take a lead and emerge successfully.


Meeting with Mrs. Frances J. Ferreira, Senior Adviser: Women and Girls.

Ms. Anshul Kharbanda, Mrs. Frances J. Ferreira

The meeting was organised by Dr. Johan Hendrikz, Senior Adviser: Open Schooling in Mrs. Frances’ office on 25th January 2018 at 10:00 hours.

Dr. Johan thanked Mrs. Frances for her contributions in open schooling initiatives at COL. He mentioned about the various projects of COL and NIOS and emphasized on further strengthening NIOS-COL relationship.

Mrs. Frances Ferreira earlier worked as Education Specialist, Basic Education and Open Schooling at COL and has worked jointly with NIOS for various projects. She organized various study tours to NIOS to help open schools share their good practices. She is also on the editorial advisory board of COMOSA journal of open schooling. She also participated in comparative study in cost and financing of NIOS and NAMCOL. She supported the development of Gender policy for open schools at NIOS on behalf of COL.  She used NIOS staff to train people extensively in other open schools.

Mrs. Ferreira was very much impressed with the NIOS initiatives and staff and remarked that NIOS has achieved several milestones and can do wonders. She remarked that NIOS has huge data base as its strength which can be used to market open schools. She further added that NIOS has emerged as an international leader and no open school is on par with NIOS. It needs to spread its wings to other countries and leave footprints worldwide.

She has been to NIOS several times and acknowledged the warmth of Indian culture and the exceptional hospitality of NIOS.


Induction and mentoring by Dr. Johan Hendrikz, Senior Advisor: Open Schooling.

Dr. Johan Hendrikz, Ms. Anshul Kharbanda

During this one month period there was a lot of brainstorming and meetings with Dr. Johan. I’m thankful to him for his readiness to support me at all times. He gave me an overview of COL, its Strategic Plan, Open Innovative Schooling OIS: Model the Theory of Change and a demonstration of Aptus device. As we work further we are sure to achieve concrete outcomes thereby making an impact on NIOS-COL bond. Our main discussions during the month were the following:

  1. Diploma in Open Schooling Operations and Management
  2. COL’s Strategic Plan
  3. Open Innovative Schooling: Learning for Sustainable Development
  4. Theory of Change: Open/Innovative Schooling
  5. Aptus device


Meeting with Dr. Beatrice Obura Ogange, Advisor: Teacher Education.

Ms. Anshul Kharbanda, Dr. Beatrice Obura Ogange, Dr. Johan Hendrikz

The meeting was organised in the COL meeting room on 30th January, 2018. Participants: Dr. Beatrice Ogange, Dr. Johan Hendrikz and Ms. Anshul Kharbanda.

We discussed the Diploma in Elementary Education being offered by NIOS for untrained in-service teachers. Dr. Beatrice was very much impressed with the enrolments for the course which amounts to nearly 1.5 million. She also appreciated monitoring and networking of NIOS and engagement of schools in the programme. She keenly observed the website and expressed her deep interest in knowing more about online learning patterns of the enrolled teachers.

Dr. Hendrikz remarked that India has similar problems like untrained teachers, no internet accessibility in some parts, out of school children etc. similar to other countries but is taking steps to move forward.

They acknowledged NIOS for its capacity in handling such large numbers.


Meeting with Ms. Alexis Carr, Research Co-ordinator.

Ms. Alexis Carr, Ms. Anshul Kharbanda, Dr. Johan HendrikzThe meeting was held in Dr. Johan’s Office on 30th January, 2018. The ongoing projects between COL and NIOS were discussed at length.


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I work for the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) in India. My vision is to expand the access of my open school and to deliver high quality cost effective services. I want to share experiences and best practices with other Commonwealth countries through this platform to constantly improve our practices.


  • Anshul says:

    Yes Jason..I am getting to learn new things everyday from the most experienced people across the globe. Other than my visit at COL, I am also experiencing the cold. Its snowing here for almost all this week now. I am learning about the Canadian culture and beautiful British Columbia.

  • Editor says:

    Anshul, your trip sounds really exciting !! I am sure you are gaining a lot of experience that can then be transferred when you return to NIOS.

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