Open Distance Learning (ODL) has the inherent potential to ensure that all people have access to life-long learning.

This was said by Deputy Minister of Education, Dr Becky Ndjoze-Ojo, at the opening of the first ODL Conference of the Namibian Open Learning Network (NOLNet) Trust on Wednesday.

She said it is estimated that over 36 000 Namibians are studying through open and distance learning with the NOLNet Trust partner institutions alone, and if the assessment is correct, then, it is a much bigger number than any of the local conventional institutions have individually or jointly enrolled.

"If this is something to go by, how much more needs to be addressed through a lack of the right methods and courses and/or even knowledge regarding the possibilities that exist," she stated.

She said ODL was ideal as it operates on the principles of economy of scale and was therefore an affordable way to learn and to keep on learning.

"Distance education especially in Namibia was, is, should and shall remain the key to the main door to education and thus to national development," stressed the former university lecturer and a product of ODL, and a graduate in Distance Education of the Institute of Education of the University of London, Ndjoze-Ojo.

She said given the socio-political history of Namibia, whereby the majority of the Namibian people were deliberately deprived of education, distance education is the bridge.

"With specific reference to the central theme of this conference, we as distance education practitioners must strive to positively influence public perception of the indispensable role of ODL in national development," she said, urging participants not to relent in using distance education as the bridge between.

As projected by its theme, 'Towards Education for All: The Critical Role of Open and Distance Learning in National Development', the goal of the two-day conference is to positively influence public perception of the role of ODL in national development.