The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed has described as grossly inadequate the existing 585 higher institutions for the 180 million population of the country.
He said the best solution to address the inadequacy lies mainly in the country’s ability to adopt quality and effective open and distance learning model of education.
The NUC scribe stated this during a one-day Stakeholders’ Validation Symposium for the Draft National Policy on Open Education Resources (OER), which is aimed at addressing the hitherto dearth of learning resources in quality, quantity and currency in higher education across the country.
This would be the first time in the history of higher education in the country that a Draft National Policy on Open Education Resources (OER) would be validated to address the dearth of learning resources in quality, quantity and currency in higher education in the country.
No fewer than 340 participants at a one-day Stakeholders’ Validation Symposium, which took place at the National Universities Commission (NUC), Abuja, considered, finalised and adopted the policy document, following a motion by a member and Advisor of the National Steering Committee on Open Educational Resources (NSC-OER), Prof. Peter Okebukola, former Executive Secretary of NUC.
Participants at the symposium include vice-chancellors, rectors, provosts, librarians and directors of ICT of Nigerian universities, polytechnics and colleges of education, representatives of national and international non-governmental organisations, embassies and other tertiary education regulatory agencies in the country such as the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), among others.
In his welcome address, Prof. Rasheed, who doubled as the convener, said with the 585 tertiary institutions including universities, polytechnics, monotechnics, colleges of education, federal colleges of agriculture, colleges of health technology and vocational educational institutions, there is the urgent need to open access through the use of technology.
He said: “It is crystal clear from the above scenario that the problem of access to higher education will continue to be a serious challenge and the need to redouble our efforts to address this cannot be over-emphasised. Inadequate access to tertiary education and enrolment of students in excess of the carrying capacity of the higher institutions has consequently remained a recurring decimal at the tertiary level.
“The National Policy on Open Educational Resources for higher education in Nigeria is government’s effort at ensuring a planned and deliberate approach in the development and improvement of quality teaching and learning materials, curricula, programmes and course design, as well as planning effective contact with students. With the development of this policy, government hopes to address the issues of access to quality higher education and enrolment of students in excess of the carrying capacity by existing higher institutions in Nigeria.”
He described the draft policy document as a concise document comprising the key elements of mission, vision, goals, OER definition and scope, intellectual property rights and licences, curriculum design and material development.
“It also includes OER in teaching and learning, capacity building, infrastructure and connectivity, quality assurance, implementation strategies and institutional arrangements,” Rasheed added.
The Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwukah, who declared the symposium open, recalled that the OER movement gained considerable visibility in 2001, when Charles Vest, the then President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), announced the institute’s intention to put all of its course materials online for the benefit of all.
He pointed out that the decision had resulted in the Open Course Ware (OCW) Project, which he noted, four years after, had included over a thousand courses.
As a result of the MIT’s initiative, Open Content Consortia are being formed by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across the world.
The Minister, who was represented by the Director, Education Support Services, Mrs. Justina Ibe, challenged participants to come up with beneficial, cutting-edge inputs, which would add value to the Policy, saying “your contributions here will go down in history as the contributions that will help in charting a path for greatness for present and future of Nigerians.”
“I stand assured, that with this special core of very experienced men and women that have distinguished themselves in various positions, we will together chart a course for sustainable educational development using OER as an instrument,” Anwukah stressed.