DISTANCE EDUCATION AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS: PROBLEMS OF QUALITY AND MANAGEMENT
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Nigerian National policy on Education (2004) in one of its tenets stipulates ‘education for all’ at different levels of education. A section of this policy encourages distance learning in tertiary institutions, which is a form of learning outside the whims and caprices of the university environment.
Distance learning dates back to the middle 19th century due to industrialization (Peters, 2002). During this period, many correspondence schools were established to grant access to education to those who could not make it to the conventional form of education. In line with this, admissions were offered from a distance not only to students within the school, but beyond. In the course of distance learning existence, it has passed through different phases and migrated from pen and paper form of learning to real-time internet form of learning. Regardless of this migration, distance learning has its advantages and disadvantages.
However, distance learning was introduced in Nigeria when external examinations were organized by Universities of London, Cambridge and Oxford, giving chance to Nigerians who wish to have western education. It paved way for Nigerians to undergo correspondence courses abroad like Rapid Results College and Wosley Hall to acquire certificate in order to gain admission into the university.
The first official credit to distance learning was in 1959, prior to Nigeria’s independence in 1960; thus the Federal Ministry of Education inaugurated the Ashby Commission. The commission’s report which was submitted in 1960, made provision for the establishment of correspondence courses in University of Lagos. With time universities like University of Ibadan and Ahmadu Bello University extended their reach through distance learning. Also, University of Ibadan inaugurated distance learning in 1988, in order to grant access to the high number of students seeking admission into the prestigious university (Adegbite and Oyekanmi, 2010).
Subsequently, when the National Council of Education enacted that National Certificate of Education (NCE) should be the least qualification for teachers, Ahmadu Bello University Institute of Education began its correspondence course.
Meanwhile, the number of universities into distance learning as approved by the National Universities Commission in Nigeria has increased, they include: University of Ibadan, University of Lagos, University of Abuja, Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Maiduguri and Federal University of Technology, Yola, amongst others.
Okonkwo (2012) outlined the principles underlying the philosophy of distance education as that:
- • Learning opportunity should be life-long and should encompass both education and training;
- • The learning process should centre on the learners build on their experience and encourage independent and critical thinking;
- • Learning provision should be flexible so that learners can choose where, when, what and how they learn as well as the pace at which they will learn;
- • Prior learning, prior experience and demonstrated competencies should be recognized so that learners are not unnecessarily barred from educational opportunities by lack of appropriate qualifications.
- • Learners should be able to accumulate credits from different learning contexts; providers should create the conditions for a fair chance of learner success (SAIDE< 2007).
From the above philosophy of distance learning, it does not mean that distance learning is only for students who cannot have access to the conventional face-to-face form of education, rather it is meant for any person (student) who desires quality education, though constrained by certain factors like occupation, age, distance, time, etc., the University of Lagos is not immune of these problems.
The purpose of distance learning is to utilize human and material facilities in institutions, in order to increase human capital for the development of the country. In other to be certain that this purpose is fully achieved, thus there is need to investigate into the how adequate and satisfactory the facilities are in terms of the number and quality of staff, quality and size of buildings including class-rooms, laboratories and workshops; library facilities, instructional support service such as photocopy and secretarial centers, staff/student ratio, etc in University of Lagos; as there are reactions from scholars that the quality of teaching given to distance learning students is quite poor. The management of the University of Lagos seems to be relaxed in this regard, as they are faced with shortage of financial resources and the necessity for redefinition of the contents, distribution and method of delivery of academic programmes.
Therefore, this study seeks to investigate distance education at the University of Lagos: Problems of quality and management.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Distance education is obviously characterized with the problem of institutions clearly struggling to establish effective distance education delivery infrastructure, most notably in the areas of material production distribution of resources and establishment and maintenance of decentralized tutorial networks (Carlson 1995). Other barriers to distance learning include: lack of staff training in course development and technology, lack of support for distance learning in general, inadequate faculty selection for distance learning courses and lack of teaching/learning aids like Computers, video equipment, communications software, etc.
These are the problems this study seeks to proffer solutions to.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major objective of this study is to examine distance education at the University of Lagos: Problems of quality and management.
Other specific objectives include:
1.To investigate the effects of distance education on the state of Nigerian education.
2.To identify ways of improving distance education in University of Lagos.
3.To examine the extent of efficiency in distance education at University of Lagos.
4.To recommend solutions to problems of quality and management of distance education in University of Lagos.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions are generated to guide this study:
- What are the effects of distance education on the state of Nigerian education?
- What are the ways of improving distance education in University of Lagos?
- What is the extent of efficiency in distance education at University of Lagos?
- What are the solutions to problems of quality and management of distance education in University of Lagos?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: Distance education at the University of Lagos is not efficient.
H1: Distance education at the University of Lagos is efficient.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is meant to inform, educate and sensitize the general public, universities’ administrators and the government on distance education.
This study aims at spurring administrators of universities need to improve the quality and management of distance learning in Nigeria, particularly in University of Lagos.
On the part of the government, they are meant to improve measures that will support distance education in Nigeria.
This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this topic and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other work or study.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study is restricted to distance education at the University of Lagos: problems of quality and management.
Limitations of study
- 1. Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
- 2. Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
DISTANCE EDUCATION: Distance education or distance learning is the education of students who may not always be physically present at a school. Courses that are conducted (51 percent or more) are either hybrid, blended or 100% whole instruction.
PROBLEM: A matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.
QUALITY: The standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something.
MANAGEMENT: The standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something.
Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004): The National Policy on Education, Abuja: NERDC Press. Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004). National Policy on Education (4th Ed.), Lagos: NERDC Press.
Peters, O. (2002): Distance education in transition, New Trends and Challenges Oldenburg: Carl von Ossietzky University Centre for distance education.
Carlson F 1995. Higher Education in Nigeria. Onitsha, Nigeria: Salsic and Sons Publishing Co.
SAIDE (2007): Open Learning Principles. Retrieved December 10, 2008 from http://www.saide.org.za.
Adegbile, J.A & Oyekanmi, J.O (2010): Adequacy of facilities provided by the University of Ibadan Distance Learning Centre, towards meeting distance leaners’ educational, social and psychological needs. Paper presented at the International Conference on Challenges of Quality Education, Institute of Education, University of Ibadan.
Okonkwo, U.M. (2012): Open and Distance learning in Nigeria in Ivowi U.M.O. and Akpan B.B: Education in Nigeria from the Beginning to the Future, A book of readings in honour of Prof. Obioha C. Nwana; pp.359-386.