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. 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 what is commonly known as Mexico (Maichew) square. CODL is headed by its own Vice President who is directly answerable to the President of the University. Under the Vice President, it has the following major organs: Associate Registrar, Academic Programs, Center Management, Quality Assurance and Research, Finance and Material Production Unit. All these Offices and units have their own Departments and sections under them.
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 respective 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 respective Regional/Main offices in matters of administration, and all their work is monitored by the same.
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 Degrees. By doing so, it has generated a large number of graduates with first degrees to the world of work.
CODL has skilled and professional academic, administrative and support staff who work on full-time, contractual, and part-time bases. The full-time staff 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 BA/BSc as the case may be to PhD.
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 have made use of this opportunity. CODL gives scholarships to deserving members of its staff to pursue their studies in its own programs at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. 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 put in place quality enhancement schemes. Many of its coordination centers have their own resource centers equipped with IT facilities, computer training laboratories for students and libraries and internet connections with the Head Office. 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. Above all, it has a rigorous quality assessment and enhancement procedures which ensures the check and balance. The institution-wide Center for Educational Improvement and Quality Assurance also monitors and evaluates it performance.
Duties and Responsibilities of CODL’s Council
The College’s Council has the following duties and responsibilities:
- Deliberate on and submit proposals to the President of the University and the Vice President for CODL on the short, medium and long-term plans of the College;
- Define the field of studies and timetable for the various courses offered in distance education programs of the College;
- Determine the procedures for the selection of students who are admitted by the College in accordance with the general guidelines of the MOE, HERQA and St. Mary's University (SMU);
- Devise ways for improving the learning and teaching methods used in the College;
- Lay down the modalities of examinations and approve grades and promotions of students in accordance with the general guidelines issued by MOE, HERQA and St. Mary's University (SMU);
- Undertake studies and suggest recommendations to the Vice President of the College concerning the rate of service fees;
- Devise ways for strengthening the relations of the College with other relevant institutions;
- Deliberate on and submit recommendations on other academic affairs relating to the College;
- Determine its own rules of procedures;
- Approve CODL’s Academic Calendar;
- Supervise the implementation of regulations passed by the President of the University and the Vice President of the College;
- Submit recommendations that can promote the training, research and consultation programs of the College to the Vice President of CODL and the President of the University for approval; and
- Undertake other activities assigned by the Vice President of the College or the President of the University (SMU).
Duties and Responsibilities of the College’s Vice President
The Vice President of CODL is appointed by and accountable to the President of St. Mary's University (SMU).
The Vice President has duties and responsible to:
- look after all distance education programs including the implementation and improvement of the academic calendar and the activities of the college;
- plan the resources needed for the College and submit plans to the concerned body and execute it upon approval;
- evaluate all requests from the various Offices, Sections, Units, Departments and Centers of CODL and submit them to the President of the University;
- work in different distance education committees as a chairperson or a member;
- represent the president when delegated and carry out his/her duties, when he/she, is unable to do his/her job due to some reasons;
- ensure that the employment, promotion and termination of CODL’s Staff is carried out according to the rules and regulations set by the University;
- supervise the implementation of the decisions of CODL’s Council and the President of the University; and
- Perform all other duties assigned by the President, and/or the Management of the University.