As an organization consisting of various member universities which focus on open and distance education system of Asia countries, the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) convenes its annual conference. The conference is hosted by the members of AAOU alternately. This year, AAOU held its 34th conference which was convened in Sri Lanka from the 1st to 3rd of June, 2021. Acting as the host is the Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) and it is the first time that the AAOU conference is conducted hybrid, which is the combination of face-to-face for the participants in Sri Lanka and virtual meeting for the participants from outside Sri Lanka.
The theme of the 2021’s AAOU conference is “Opening minds for a sustainable future: Re-orienting ODL to surmount challenges”. The theme relates to the holistic and transformationalistic education concepts which are stipulated by UNESCO, which include; 1. The learning content and results which empower the correct decisions and responsible actions on critical issues, such as climate changes, biodiversity, disaster risk reduction; 2. Pedagogy and learning environment which focus on student-centered teaching which allows explorative, oriented-toward-action, and transformative learning; 3. The learning engagement and introducing the core competence, such as critical and systematic thinking, collaborative decision making, and taking responsibilities for both today and future generations; and 4. The empowerment of students of all ages, any education contexts, in order to change their personality themselves and the communities where they live.
As the President of AAOU for 2020-2022, the Rector of Indonesia Open University or Universitas Terbuka, Prof. Ojat Darojat, M.Bus., Ph.D., opened the 34th AAOU conference. In his opening speech, Prof. Ojat underlined the theme of the 34th AAOU conference, “Opening minds for a sustainable future: Re-orienting ODL to surmount challenges” hoping that it would give the motivation to work harmoniously and improve the people’s life, economy, and environment which give the positive impacts to one another. He also expected that all the participants at the conference can gain sufficient knowledge and experience, particularly in order to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) with the focus on inclusive and fair education quality as well as the introduction of long-life learning opportunity for all. The program concluded with the remarks by Prof. Ojat with the agenda of announcement on the winners of the AAOU Awards 2021 which was announced by the Secretary General of AAOU of 2020-2022, Mister Rahmat Budiman, M.Hum., Ph.D., who is currently the serving the office of Vice Rector for Institutional Development and Partnership Affairs of Universitas Terbuka.