TRANSFORMING TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS FOR MASS HIGHER EDUCATION THROUGH DISTANCE AND OPEN LEARNING APPROACHES IN NIGERIA
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Education is the bedrock of civilization of any economy. Therefore, for any country to grow, educating its citizens is the surest means of achieving this. This should be more considered by countries that are still backward-developing continents like Africa, Asia, Latin America and even the Middle East; especially for a country like Nigeria with a vast growing population. Meaningful and sustainable development can be achieved in Nigeria if much preference is made to education in Nigeria. Education is a viable universal tool, adopted and accepted by the people in tackling the challenges of life like poverty (Sangai, 2004). Even as proven by economist and social scientist that the major cause of poverty is illiteracy. The benefits of having a literate population are enormous. It is with confidence to say, that the first-three points of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are easily achievable with a literate population. The points are: eradication of extreme poverty; achievement of universal primary education; and, promotion of gender equality and women empowerment.
Positive transformations in the political, economic, social, intellectual and technological spheres of Nigeria can only be achieved when right education policies are rightly implemented (Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA, 2002).
One of the education policies in sub Saharan African countries is the traditional education system which in interpersonal in nature (interaction between the student and teacher), structured courses of study, fixed locations for learning, fixed time schedules, and a certification system. Bearing the traditional education system in mind, none of the sub Saharan African countries has been able to fulfill the “education for all” policy, due to the use of the tradition or conventional education system (ADEA, 2002).
However, the lapses in the traditional education system gave birth to the evolution of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) system in the sub-saharan African countries. The increasing recognition of the role of open and distance learning was identified in the 2004 revised Nigeria’s National policy on education. The revised national policy had specified the goals of distance education as follows (Ojokheta, 2010):
- To provide access to quality education and equity in educational opportunities.
- To meet special needs of employers by mounting special certificate courses for their employees at their workplaces.
- To encourage internationalization, especially of tertiary education curricula.
- To ameliorate the effect of internal and external brain drain in tertiary institutions by utilizing Nigerian experts as teachers regardless of their locations or places of work.
Away from the aforementioned, distance learning helps to fill the gap made by students who for one reason or the other were cut-off at one stage of their education; with other benefits like low cost of learning, flexibility, and convenience of not having to return to the classroom; as against the traditional or conventional system of government that requires a student’s presence in school, well registered and must be students from recognized institutions of learning.
Distance learning is a teaching method that allows a student to gain knowledge beyond the barriers of space, time and without being in close contact with the teacher. Distance education gives a student a high degree of independence-it is the student that decides when, how, and what to learn. Currently with the advent of technology, distance learning has been going on smoothly with no stress with the aid of the internet, computer, and even the media.
Open learning is broader than distance learning though has the major challenge of being difficult to implement. It involves all kinds of education and training that are achieved through different approaches. Thus in order to achieve this, there is need for integration of approaches-formal and conventional approaches (Komba et al, 2006). The open system entails constant reviewing of restrictions on students and doing away with them when necessary. Openness is considered in relation to intake, participation, progression, completion and achievement. Barriers include the student’s economic circumstances, socio - cultural factors, academic qualifications as well as teaching approaches.
Tertiary institutions in Nigeria can be transformed through distance and open learning, as it is very obvious that through these approaches the literacy level of Nigeria will increase, sustainable development will be achieved and possibly, Nigeria by 2020 can be one of the leading economies of the world.
In addition to this, due to the high level of poverty in Nigeria, many youths will like to opt for distance and open learning as it will give them the chance to combine hustling for their daily needs and education.
Although the major problem of these approaches is the proper implementation of the policies of distance and open learning across countries in sub Saharan Africa. It is therefore due to this that this study is carried out in other to examine how distance and higher learning can transform tertiary institutions for mass higher education in Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The major problem with distance and open learning is the non-implementation of policies and ethical practice of open distance learning in Nigeria; as these policies are not very pronounced in Nigeria.
Other notable problems are problem of financing adequate provision, outdated structures for education and training, lack of expertise in the practice of Open Distance Learning models and lack of documentation.
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 Transforming Tertiary Institutions for Mass Higher Education through Distance and Open Learning Approaches in Nigeria.
Other specific objectives include:
- To examine the significant relationship between distance/open learning approaches and national development.
- To examine the relationship between distance/open learning and high level of literacy.
- To investigate if distance and open learning encourages students’ of Nigerian tertiary institution to be unserious.
- To identify the challenges of distance and open learning approaches in Nigeria.
- To proffer means of tackling these challenges.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions are generated to guide this study:
- What is the significant relationship between distance/open learning approaches and national development?
- What is the relationship between distance/open learning and high level of literacy?
- Does distance and open learning encourage students’ of Nigerian tertiary institution to be unserious?
- What are the challenges of distance and open learning approaches in Nigeria?
- What are the means of tackling these challenges?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: Distance and open learning does not encourage students’ of Nigerian tertiary institution to be unserious.
H1: Distance and open learning encourages students’ of Nigerian tertiary institution to be unserious.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is meant inform, educate and enlighten the general public, the government and tertiary education administrators on transforming tertiary institutions for mass higher education through distance and open learning approaches in Nigeria.
This study aims at informing and encouraging the general public, especially students of tertiary institutions on the benefits of distance and open learning; bearing the economic situation of Nigeria.
For the government, the study seeks to remind them on the need to review the policies made as regards distance and open learning and the effective implementation of those policies.
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 transforming tertiary institutions for mass higher education through distance and open learning approaches in Nigeria.
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
TRANSFORMING: The process of making a marked change in the form, nature, or appearance of something.
DISTANCE EDUCATION: Distance education on the other hand is less a philosophy and more a method of education. Students can study in their own time, at the place of their choice (home, work or learning centre), and without face-to-face contact with a teacher. Technology is a critical element of distance education.
OPEN LEARNING: Open learning is primarily a goal, or an educational policy. An essential characteristic of open learning is the removal of barriers to learning. This means no prior qualifications to study, and for students with disabilities, a determined effort to provide education in a suitable form that overcomes the disability (for example, audio tapes for students who are visually impaired). Ideally, no-one should be denied access to an open learning program. Thus open learning must be scalable as well as flexible. Open-ness has particular implications for the use of technology. If no-one is to be denied access, then technologies that are available to everyone need to be used.
HIGHER EDUCATION: Higher education, post-secondary education, or third level education is an optional final stage of formal learning that occurs after secondary education. Often delivered at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology, higher education is also available through certain college-level institutions, including vocational schools, trade schools, and other career colleges that award academic degrees or professional certifications. Tertiary education at non-degree level is sometimes referred to as further education or continuing education as distinct from higher education.
Sangai, S (2004). Open and Distance Education – Emerging issues and concerns. OSAC Journal of Open Schooling. Vol. IV No.2, 100-108..
Association for the Development of Education in Africa, ADEA
(2002), “Distance Education and Open Learning in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Literature Survey on Policy and Practice”, A Report of the Working Group on Distance Education and Open Learning, February.
Komba, D.A, Willy Komba, and Charles Senkondo (2006).
TCU Guidelines For Evaluation, Recognition And Accreditation Of Programmes Delivered Under Open, Distance And Electronic/ICT Mode. A Report Submitted to TCU.
Ojokheta, K. O (2010) “Reflections on Policy and Practices of Open and Distance Learning in Nigeria: Towards a Renewed Invigoration”, Malaysian Journal of Distance Education, vol. 12, no. 1.