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We cannot operate 100 per cent e-learning in view of challenges- NUC

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The National Universities Commission (NUC) has said that full e-learning in Nigeria would be difficult in view of challenges of infrastructure, power and internet access.

“The country cannot operate 100 per cent e-learning in view of the challenges of infrastructure, power and internet access. It will be difficult,” Dr Suleiman Ramon-Yusuf, NUC Deputy Executive Secretary (Academics), told newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday.

Ramon-Yusuf expressed the commission’s concern over integrity issues surrounding the operation of the mode of learning in the country.

He stated that e-learning must pass the integrity test before being fully embraced, adding that there was need for e-learning to be run in such a manner that every student was accounted for.

“We need to sit down and articulate the requirements for e-learning – materials, men and women, infrastructure – what should we put in place, how should we proceed. We can’t do e-learning
today in Nigeria.

“What we can do is blended learning. Anybody who is making noise that e-learning must start tomorrow is either mischievous or ignorant.

“No one can decree e-learning in Nigeria before the end of this year.

“We need to plan; we need to invest; we need to train. After putting all the infrastructures in place, we need training of teachers. You must get them to have a mind-set shift.”

According to him, private open universities will come on board when all stakeholders are satisfied that the country has what it takes to guarantee quality and integrity of the e-learning programme.

“We must try not to create e a window for the proliferation of worthless certificates under e-learning.”

Ramon-Yusuf further said that the e-learning mode must be based on integrity and verifiable quality as each learner must be accounted for, in terms of the competencies that they had acquired so that they could be worthy in character and learning.

He explained that many academic staff in universities were not quite up to standard in terms of the digital competences required to operate meaningfully in a virtual learning environment.

He said that the commission was reviewing its 2009 guidelines on e-learning to prepare the grounds for effective e-learning in the country while assuring that the new guidelines would be announced as soon as the process was completed.

On Open and Distance Learning (ODL), he praised the flexibility of the programme, stating that the standard and curriculum of regular and ODL programmes were the same as NUC had always insisted on parity of esteem.

He added that if the teachers in ODL implemented 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 is 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.

He said that the NUC raised the entry requirements for degree programmes through ODL to five credits, including Mathematics and English, in order to guarantee parity of esteem or respect for the programme.

While describing education at all levels as a chain that was as strong as its weakest point, he said that no level of education should be ignored.

“If the country ignores primary education and focuses on the tertiary, it will have no foundation upon which to build,” he warned.

Ramon-Yusuf noted that there are 11 distance learning centres in Nigeria, adding that NUC was very strict about the admission of students because ODL could either be a weapon of mass instruction or weapon of mass destruction.

He expressed delight over the reforms at the National Open University of Nigeria under the Chairmanship of Prof. Peter Okebukola, stressing that Nigeria would benefit massively when they are completed.

Funmilayo Adeyemi

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