In March 2000, St. Mary’s University (then St. Mary’s College) opened its Distance Education Division – DED (now College of Open and Distance Learning – CODL) with Business and Law fields of studies at its focus. A year after its establishment, it widened its training programs and included various fields of studies in Teacher Education.
The College of Open and Distance Learning (CODL) Head Office is located in Addis Ababa close to commonly known as Mexico (Maichew) square. CODL has one hundred forty Coordinating Centers and Agent Offices which are responsible for registration of students, distribution of learning materials, and organization and coordination of term based tutorial and examination sessions in their respected regions. The Centers and Agent Offices are also responsible for liaising with government and non-government bodies and the peoples of the regions.
The Coordination Centers and Agent Offices are directly responsible to their respected Region/Main offices in matters of administration, and all their work is monitored by the same.
CODL is headed by its own Vice President who is directly answerable to the President of the University. Under the Vice President, CODL has the following major organs: Office of the Associate Registrar, Office of the Academic Programs, Office of Centers Management, Unit of Quality Assurance and Research and CODL’s
Finance Section. All these Offices have their own Units and Departments under them.
CODL places the highest value on diligence, teamwork, active student participation, transparency and accountability so as to ensure quality and sustained improvement as per highest national and international standards that contribute to Ethiopia’s development.
CODL trains students at the undergraduate level in B.A Degree and in Level III and IV at the Technical Vocational Education and Training Program. By doing so, it has generated a large number of graduates with first degrees, diplomas and certificates.
CODL has both academic, administrative and support staff who work on full-time, contractual, and part-time bases. The full-time staffs are about five hundred while those who serve on contractual and part-time bases are more than two hundred fifty. The academic staff members’ qualification range from B.A’s to PhD’s.
In its attempt to encourage its staff to improve their qualifications, SMU grants workload reduction for its full-time staff to pursue their studies at post-graduate level and encourage its administrative staff to pursue their studies at the undergraduate level, too. A considerable number of its staff has made use of this opportunity. CODL gives scholarships to deserving members of its staff to pursue their studies in its own programs at undergraduate level. Short-term training and workshops are also given, both within SMU and outside, to members of its staff.
To enhance the quality of the distance education provided, CODL has several unique features. Firstly, many of its coordination centers have their own resource centers equipped with IT facilities, computer training laboratories for students, libraries and dial-up connections with the Head Office (Broadband connection is on process). Located at the Head Office, the Audio-Visual studio produces audio and audio-video materials that are distributed together with learning modules with no additional cost to students. CODL is in a class of its own among Private Higher Education Institutions in Ethiopia as it produces quality self learning print materials including modules at its own well organized printing press.