OPEN UNTO THE FIELDS, AND TO THE SKY…
THE OPEN UNIVERSITY OF SRI LANKA CELEBRATES ITS 40TH ANNIVERSARY!
The Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) celebrated its 40th anniversary on 22nd July 2020 with a simple, yet an elegant ceremony, led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Anbahan Ariadurai and members of the senior academic staff of the OUSL. All other staff members participated through an online meeting platform to comply with COVID-19 health guidelines.
OUSL had its humble beginnings in the early 1980s, though with an ambitious objective to make university education accessible for thousands of Sri Lankans scattered throughout the island. The OUSL has opened up opportunities to pursue university education for thousands of Sri Lankans providing a ladder of opportunities for developing careers of adult employed population. Besides it also paved way for those who could not enroll in the conventional universities due to various constraints including the intense competition for the limited seats. This allowed the students to remain as active participants in economic development, while expanding their horizons in the academia. Thus, the OUSL revolutionized the way the notions of learning and teaching were conceptualized in Sri Lanka. The university democratized higher learning and disseminated it to the length and breadth of the nation. The OUSL is the second oldest ODL institute in South Asia and pioneered conducting science and engineering degree programmes in ODL mode in world.
The central campus of the University is situated in Nawala, a refreshingly vibrant suburb town of the Capital City Colombo, known for its scenic attractions as well as trading opportunities, with the state-of-the-art ODL facilities. In addition, the university has a spread its reach to the rest of the island by setting up Regional Centres (RC) in every province and Study Centres (SC) in every district at its own premises. The OUSL boast of 9 RCs and 19 SCs catering to more than 40,000 students on its 40th anniversary, being the largest educational institute in Sri Lanka with reference to student numbers and reach. There are six Faculties with thirty academic Departments, a Centre for Educational Technology and Media (CETMe), a Centre for Environmental Studies and Sustainable Development (CESSD) and the Post-graduate Institute of English. The OUSL offers more than 1,000 individual courses and 75 study programmes from certificate to doctoral level at present.
The OUSL is one of the pioneering members of AAOU and has actively participated in the affairs of the AAOU from the beginning. Accordingly, the academic staff members of the OUSL have actively involved in the activities of the AAOU including its annual conferences. Many were the accolades awarded to OUSL researchers by the AAOU. The year 2018 was a ground-breaking year in OUSL-AAOU bond, when the OUSL was selected to host the AAOU 2020 annual conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, the conference had to be postponed to June 2021 due to the present COVID-19 crisis. Nevertheless, the OUSL is determined to make this even a memorable one as the culminating event of the university’s 40-year celebrations.
At the 40th anniversary celebration event, OUSL also released a special edition of its regular newsletter, the OPEN Quarterly, capturing the spirit of its 40 years of existence. Without the hint of doubt it could be concluded that the OUSL has fulfilled its original mission and has transformed the teaching-learning landscape of Sri Lanka during the past 40 years and if the past is anything to go by the OUSL will be blazing new trails in the future.