Fred Ezeh, Abuja
National Universities Commission (NUC) has expressed fears that Nigerian universities may not catch up with other institutions of the world as quickly as expected with regards to e-learning.
This, NUC said, was because academic and non academic staff in Nigerian universities are not up to speed with digital competences which are required to be able to operate meaningfully in a virtual learning environment.
NUC’s Deputy Executive Secretary (Academics), Dr. Suleiman Ramon-Yusuf, told journalists in Abuja, that Nigeria was, evidently, not ripe for 100 percent e-learning as was demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown which halted physical academic activities.
Dr. Suleiman disclosed that NUC was reviewing its 2009 guidelines on e-learning to prepare the ground for effective e-learning in the country, even as he assured that the new guidelines would be announced as soon the process is completed.
He said: “We are preparing for the full take off of e-learning services in Nigerian universities. The new guidelines are being reviewed and will be announced as soon as possible.”
He, however, praised the flexibility of the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) programmes, stating that the standard and curriculum of regular and ODL programmes were the same, as NUC has always insisted on parity of esteem.
He added: “If the lecturers in ODL implement the minimum academic benchmark curriculum as envisaged by NUC, there would be no significant difference between graduates of regular face-to-face programme or ODL programme.”
According to him, the gap usually observed in the system was between the implemented curriculum and achieved curriculum which has a lot to do with the instrumentality of delivery or the ability of the teacher to deliver or the study environment.
“NUC raised the entry requirements for degree programmes through ODL to five credits, including Maths and English, in order to guarantee parity of esteem or respect for the programme,” he explained.
He, however, described education at all levels as a chain that is as strong as its weakest point, suggesting that no level of education should be ignored. “If we ignore primary education system and focus on the tertiary, then we would have no foundation upon which to build.”
Ramon-Yusuf disclosed that there are 11 distance learning centres in Nigeria, adding that NUC was very strict about the admission of students, because ODL can either be a weapon of mass instruction or weapon of mass destruction.
He expressed delight over the reforms ongoing at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) under Prof. Peter Okebukola, as Chairman of Governing Council, stressing that Nigeria stands to benefit massively when they are completed.