The National Universities Commission (NUC) on Tuesday said it is in the process of allowing 15 more universities to embark on open distance/online learning as this will help solve inadequate access to university education.
The Executive Secretary of the NUC, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, said this at a one day symposium on policy and practice in open and distance learning.
The event which was a collaboration between the NUC and the University of London is to promote open and distance learning in the country.
He said Open and Distance Learning (ODL) is a system of teaching and learning which is characterised by using multiple media for delivering instruction and learning interaction.
Rasheed said the commission is concerned about the quality of education in the country noting that that the issue of quality cannot be ignored.
“For NUC, quality is the main reason why we are existing not the quantity, we want to assure that every certificate obtained in Nigerian universities is worth it,” he said.
According to him, NUC cannot “order universities to double their intakes because of quantity because every programme in Nigerian universities is judged through quality assurance mechanism.”
“The physical infrastructure, quality of a staff, quality of laboratory and libraries are important.
“NUC is trying to advise government on the best way to tackle skills’ issue because the number we are talking about in secondary schools or those out of primary schools cannot just be tackled by simply enrolling them in the universities,” he said.
Between ODL and conventional education graduates
He said the issue of parity between ODL graduates and conventional ones would be resolved when “ODL programme is fully institutionalised in our country.”
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu who was represented by the director, tertiary education, Joel Ojo said the government is committed towards improving access to quality and lifelong learning through its open and distance learning initiative.
He said that globally, ODL has been embraced as a panacea to inadequate access to quality education as well as promoting lifelong learning.
According to him, the government is putting in place adequate learning support that will facilitate equitable quality education by 2030.
He urged the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN, to comply with the guidelines of NUC to “internationalise world best global practices.”
Quality assurance vital
Meanwhile, the President of Global University Network for Innovation (GUNI-Africa), Professor Peter Okebukola, said quality assurance should play a major role in the way education is tackled by the Nigerian government.
“The concern of GUNI is how quality is delivered and how to access the quality being delivered, we want a mechanism that will guarantee that products from the regular system and product from the open and distance learning system are at par.
These product should be better in terms of knowledge, quality and attitude”, he said.
Mike Winter, the director of Global Engagement, University of London, said there are lots of opportunities for open and distance learning in Nigeria.
“The opportunities include sharing ideas on how to develop these intiatives around quality and education. One is around parallel degree which is a mechanism the universities have been running for more than 20 years whereby students can study online for degree; the other is the growth of provision for post-graduate online (study)”, he said.