For observers elsewhere in the world, the most striking feature of distance education (DE) in Asia is the mega-universities and mega-schools that have added many millions to the global tally of distance learners in recent decades. These are institutions such as China’s radio and television universities (now called the Open University of China) and India’s National Institute for Open Schooling.
This book reveals a more complex, differentiated and interesting reality. Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) deserves our congratulations for having taken a pan-Asia perspective in PANdora in this study of distance and open resource access. The contributors of the various sections have worked in teams, which gives coherence and integrity to the book, which are usually missing in volumes where different contributors concentrate on individual countries. Furthermore, the editors and contributors have looked beyond the obvious places. For example, the development of distance education in Bhutan—where television is barely a decade old—is probably little known even to specialists. In most cases, rigorous research methods have been used in the studies, which have left an important legacy of expertise across the region.
Democratic development in turbulent times
Research can mitigate destabilizing factors in fragile states and address inequalities that hold back democracy.