THE UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has committed to giving support to the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) in setting up a 21st Century learning system.
Mr Ydo Yao, the Regional Director of UNESCO made the commitment at the opening ceremony of a five-day regional workshop on Using Online Learning and Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) to Promote Quality Higher Education in Abuja.
The workshop was organised by UNESCO in collaboration with NOUN and other partners.
Yao said that in the West African region, the population of students greatly out-numbered that of teachers, adding that this could not guarantee quality education.
According to him, distance or digital learning is the best alternative to addressing the challenge and ensure that the Sustainable Development Goal 4 agenda on quality education is achieved.
He said that the 21st century universities required virtual systems which include open educational resources and shared research, transfer of advanced technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics, cloud competing, among other trends.
“UNESCO will mobilise partners to assist your university to build it to the 21st century standard which provides development of alternative solutions to address the challenge of higher education.
“We will support in a university that use Artificial Intelligence to reinvent higher education, big data and learning analytics to improve the way of teaching, learning and making scientific research.
“UNESCO will also help in quality assurance and university governance to better manage higher education institutions,” Yao said.
He said that higher education was evolving and undergraduates, intending students needed to acquire new skills required for the job markets.
According to the regional director, training to match job requirements and skills is a huge challenge, especially with statistics showing that more than 50 per cent of today’s job will disappear in the next 20 years and replaced with digital jobs.
“Universities have to anticipate and make sure the students are properly prepared to occupy these future jobs.”
He said that equipping students with the required skills was a huge problem for ECOWAS countries, urging them to should rise up to adopting new forms of training and research as related to trends in the Information Communication Technology.
Yao added that equipping students in the region with the needed skills required collaborations among universities, ministries of educations, communication to adapt to the revolution in the higher education system.
Dr Abdalla Adamu, the Vice Chancellor of NOUN said that the higher educational system in the country needed to align with the changing demographic situation of the country.
Adamu said that the huge population of the country were made of up the younger generation that were dynamic with technology.
“When NOUN started, we had a better population of people advanced in age but today we are having more of the younger ones who understand technology.
“This partnership is important to us because it will advance our system of learning which will help our over 516,000 students enrolled in our university to learn better.”
According to him, NOUN is strengthening its partnerships with international organisations to explore forms of distant and virtual learning.
In his inaugural lecture, Prof. Peter Okebukola, former Nigeria Universities Commission’s boss, said online learning required a change in behaviour brought about by exposure, which people who desired to change skills adopt.
Okebukola said that online learning often obtainable from virtual universities made education easy, availed learning to many people, “ensures equity, convenience, saves time and is cost effective’’.
He said that virtual universities were not real institutions but operate in a cyber space as against the physical schools.
Okebukola said “virtual universities are established to address the challenge of access to quality education, provide affordable education and engender globalisation.”
He frowned at the wrong perception that the quality of education from virtual universities was inferior to that of physical institutions.
According to him, the management of virtual universities should ensure they engage and recruit qualified staff and the admission processes should be credible.
Over 35 participants from Sierra Leone, Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Benin Republic and Nigeria, among other West African countries participated at the workshop. (NAN)
– June 17, 2019 @ 17:27 GMT |