Theme: The Role of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in Education for Sustainable Development
Venue: Mulungushi International Conference Centre, in the heart of Lusaka, just next to the University of Zambia.


Conference newsletters

Day 1 [5.3 MB] |  Day 2 [3.4 MB]


09th November 2017 - Pre-Conference Workshop(s) and EXCO pre Conference Meeting
10th November 2017 - Opening Ceremony and 1st Day of Conference
11th November 2017 - 2nd Day of Conference and Closing Ceremony in the afternoon
12th November 2017 - Annual General Meeting (AGM)

Accommodation information is available on this link

The Scope of the Conference

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

The mission of DEASA is to promote ODL quality delivery and its sustainable deployment in the Southern Africa Development Community (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. The dimensions of policy formulation, capacity building, quality assurance, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), furtherance of human rights, entrepreneurial skills development and alignment to key sustainable development goals have been identified as the lens of the 2017 conference deliberations.

The Theme of the Conference

Research on Open and Distance learning and sustainable development has been limited, often focusing more on creation of space, access and gender equality using the Internet as a tool for sustainable education, while omitting the need for capacity building, furtherance of human rights, skills for entrepreneurial development and gender and economic development. Hence the inclusion of these critical areas for the conference.

Sub Themes:

  1. Policy Innovations through ODL
    Faced with new training demands and new competitive challenges, ODL institutions need to undertake profound changes in terms of policy innovations in governance, organizational structure, student support and quality assurance for the purposes of achieving sustainable development. More and more traditional universities are rapidly transforming themselves from single mode to dual mode universities, recognizing the importance of distance education in providing students with the best and most up-to-date policy innovations and resources available for enhancing sustainable development. Under this theme, scholars are expected to:
    • interrogate the issues of policy innovations, 
    • sustainable development,
    • planning, implementation and other pertinent areas of ODL.

  2. Open Distance Learning, Social Justice and Curriculum
    Sustainable development has the following key facets: equity and social inclusion meaning all members of a society, regardless of gender, race or income, have access to quality learning op¬portunities and can direct their own development. Globally misuses of power and privilege have oppressed and marginalized people based on differences of ethnicity, age, gender, ability, social class, political beliefs, marital status, size [height and /or weight], sexual orientation, gender expression, spiritual beliefs, language, and national origin. Under this subtheme, scholars are expected to:
    • Demonstrate how open education practitioners are integrating aspects of social justice within their curricula.
    • Explain how open education contributes towards the transformation of a more humane, less violent and just world.
    • Interrogate how ODL policies, delivery processes, learning tools and content contribute towards the economic development opportunities for all.

  3. Digital Technologies for Open Education Teaching and Learning
    Teaching and learning are considered fundamentals of any effort to achieve sustainable development hence, are critical for ODL practitioners to get them right. An essential component of digital technologies is employing and harnessing ICT to support teaching and learning for sustainable development. Under this subtheme, scholars are expected to:
    • Demonstrate how emerging and digital technologies can be used to enhance teaching and learning.
    • Interrogate how digital technologies can be used for the furtherance of teaching and learning in ODL context.
    • Examine how OER and MOOCs can be used in ODL

  4. Capacity Building and impact
    The key question for this sub theme is: Is the training translating into sustainable development for the beneficiaries and their environments? 
    Under this subtheme, scholars are expected to:
    • Demonstrate how ODL institutions are capacitating practitioners in a variety of areas such as curriculum development, ICTs, student support, management etc.
    • Share best practices on capacity building in ODL. 
    • Share strategies for building ODL practitioners’ capacity and interest in conducting research to inform practice.

  5. Employability and Entrepreneurial Skilling through ODL
    Research in entrepreneurship is greatly influenced by global trends as well as developments of government entrepreneurship policy agendas and implementation by communities of practice. In this subtheme scholars would deliberate on theoretical constructs and philosophies that underpin the field of entrepreneurship. Context specific understandings of entrepreneurship in the SADC region would be explored with a view to highlighting how employment opportunities could be created for the susceptible youth in the society through: 
    Under this sub-theme, scholars are expected to:
    • Interrogate the implementation of entrepreneurial Policy in Open and Distance Learning institutions.
    • Examine entrepreneurial learning in ODL communities of practice
    • Explore Evidence–based ODL approaches and innovative practices in youth employment and skills for business entrepreneurship.
    • Interrogate the relevance of employability and entrepreneurship skills imparted through ODL in the SADC region since there seem to be mismatch of programmes offered and the entrepreneurial needs of the market.
    Examine the impact of Life-long learning on entrepreneurial development and employment creation by ODL institutions in the SADC region.

Call for Abstracts and Papers:

  • Call for Extended Abstracts: 7th April 2017
  • Due date for Extended Abstracts: 31st May 2017
  • Results on Extended Abstracts: 15th June 2017
  • Submission of full papers for peer review: 31st July 2017
  • Submission of papers for Conference Proceedings: 28th August 2017
  • Submission of PowerPoint presentations: 8th September 2017

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:

Professor Dr. Nyaruwata, L.T- Chairperson: DEASA Research Committee
Professor, Higher Degrees Directorate, Zimbabwe Open University
Tel: +263-4-459601/459647 ext 330
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: 

EFT to DEASA Bank Account

DEASA Members US$ 150 R 2 000.00
Non-DEASA Members US$ 180 R 2 400.00
Students US$ 50 R 400.00

Kindly print out the registration form, complete, scan and send back, with proof of payment.