DEASA's CONFERENCE and 50TH AGM SWAZILAND: 18th - 20th September 2015
Conference Dates: 18th-19th September 2015
AGM Date: 20th September 2015

Conference Brochure

THEME: Celebrating 43 years of DEASA widening access to education: A reflective lens


Distance Education Association of Southern Africa (DEASA) is a vibrant organisation that strives to become the regional powerhouse in Open and Distance Learning (ODL). Its major goal is to enable members to share information, to collaborate in obtaining and developing quality distance education courses in identified areas of need, and to organise relevant professional development activities.

The mission of DEASA is to promote ODL quality delivery and its sustainable deployment in the SADC region through the formulation of policies and frameworks to guide practice. The number of Open and Distance Learning institutions joining DEASA from both public and private has been steadily increasing. Given four decades of operation, it is timely for the organization to pause, deliberate and reflect on the successes, failures, challenges that have been experienced in DEASA. The dimensions of leadership, capacity building, policy reviews, quality assurance, Information and Communication Technologies and alignment to key development goals have been identified as the lens of scrutiny.


The aim of the conference is to bring together academics, policy makers, practitioners and scholars from the region and beyond to share research findings and experiences on ODL relating to the extent to which ODL has enhanced access to education for all.

In keeping with DEASA's practices, the conference is expected to make a 2015 DEASA Swaziland Declaration on ODL in meeting regional educational and developmental needs in the SADC Region.


1. Leadership
The world of open and distance learning (ODL) has undergone dramatic changes. The number of players in ODL has increased exponentially as online learning has become mainstream practice in higher education. In the last decade, also, new electronic forms of open educational practices have been developed, creating a set of new challenges and opportunities for university top leadership in open and distance education institutions. This sub theme therefore focuses on change and how leadership has a pivotal role in promoting ODL. It also celebrates how leadership in ODL institutions has enhanced access and equality to education in Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) because 2015 is a special 43rd anniversary year for DEASA. Therefore the authors are expected to demonstrate the role of leadership in transforming ODL institutions.

2. Capacity building/development

SADC has committed itself to, amongst other strategic objectives, to promoting the development of human resources as a means of achieving its objectives. In this regard education and skills development has been identified as an area of cooperation necessary for developing knowledge, attitudes, appropriate and relevant skills and human capacities necessary to promote investment, efficiency and competitiveness. Under this sub- theme authors will be expected to reflect on how SADC has capacitated its citizens through ODL, challenges faced and success stories of ODL enhancing access and equality to human development.

3. Policy

Understanding the environment and the policies at play helps to ensure that planning and developing open and distance learning remains innovative and responsive. Such understanding is critical if we are to serve new generations of ODL and promote education for sustainable development.

Under this sub theme, authors are expected to explore policies that are formulated and implemented for ODL, challenges faced in implementing the policies, processes for formulating the policies and the benefits of such policies in a dynamic and rapidly changing ODL environment.

4. Quality Assurance

The SADC Regional ODL Policy Framework highlights the urgent need to address issues of quality in ODL across the member states. It notes that most ODL institutions in the region do not have effective quality assurance systems and that there is no harmonised regional mechanism for facilitating recognition of qualifications. For instance, Programme development and delivery in many institutions is not supported by quality assurance frameworks. Member States have different sets of policies, rules and regulations governing the establishment of standards for ODL development and delivery at various levels.

Under this sub theme, authors are expected to debate on quality assurance implementation and its structures in ODL institutions, mechanisms, the challenges experienced and success stories linked to quality ODL development and delivery.

5. Information and Communication Technologies

ICTs have opened up new horizons for progress and the exchange of creativity and intercultural dialogue. The rapid development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the move towards more knowledge-intensive, interdependent and internationalized societies creates new challenges and opportunities for the design and delivery of ODL. One such challenge is the growing digital divide leading to greater inequalities in development. Under this sub theme, authors are expected to debate on how ICT and ODL have uplifted disadvantaged groups, rural communities, illiterate populations or even entire countries to become members of the knowledge and economic society.

6. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

The MDGs had until recently become a universal framework for development, and a means for developing countries and their partners to work together in pursuit of a shared future for all. The 2014 MDGs global report states that substantial progress has been made in most areas but much more effort is needed to reach the set targets. 2015 being the end target date, in this sub theme, the authors are expected to debate on how ODL institutions have influenced the achievements of the MDGs.

Call for Abstracts and Papers

Abstracts are invited for the theme and sub-themes herein described.

The presentations shall be in the form of:

Theoretical or best practice papers based on research and review;

  • Case Studies;
  • Poster Presentation;
  • Keynote Address;
  • Audio-Visual, CD-Rom and Internet Demonstration.

Important Notice: Extension of deadlines

Deadlines for 2nd Call for Abstracts and Papers are now as follows:

  • 2nd Call for Extended Abstracts: 9th June 2015
  • Due date for Extended Abstracts: 26th June 2015
  • Results on Extended Abstracts: 10th July 2015
  • Submission of full papers: 14th August 2015

Your extended abstract must be 4-5 pages and include the following:

Name/s of author/s
Institution affiliation
e-mail address


Background This includes the introduction and the context of the study
Literature review Concise review of what has been written about the subject/topic of your interest
Problem statement What is the problem that you are investigating?
Aims and objectives (this can also include research questions) What do you want to achieve in your research. A summary of the aims and objectives.
Research design and methodology Data collection processes. Major activities involved. Data analysis processes used.
Findings and discussions What have you found in your studies? General conclusions and recommendations.
References Major citations used
Style Times New Roman
Font 12
Space 1.5

The Conference will be organized in sessions to include:-

Opening and keynote address session;

Plenary sessions;
Parallel sessions.

All papers will be peer reviewed before being published in the conference proceedings.

Language use:
The conference will be mainly conducted in English. However, provision will be made for translations in French and Portuguese.

Abstracts and papers should be submitted to:

Dr. Nyaruwata, L.T- Chairperson: DEASA Research Committee
Senior Lecturer, Higher Degrees Directorate, Zimbabwe Open University

Fax: +263-712 448 795
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Registration Fees:

DEASA Members US$ 100 R1000.00  
Non-DEASA Members US$ 120 R1200.00
Students US$30 R 300.00

Kindly print out the registration form, complete, scan and send back.

Conference Report [9.9 MB]