Prof. Peter Okebukola, former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, says Nigeria must double its Open Learning Centres to address the high demand for education and human development.
Okebukola said this recently in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.
According to the former NUC boss, the population of the country is not commensurate with the number of students seeking admission into tertiary institutions.
He said: “We need to double our Open Learning Centres in the next five years to be able to cope with the demand and high education participation rate.
“We are about 200 million in Nigeria and we only have space for about 600,000 students in the regular university and for the National Open University of Nigeria, it is about one million.
“The number is small; it is a drop in the ocean.”
He said Nigeria has only eleven approved open distance learning centres operating under the National Open University of Nigeria presently.
He said: “Nigerians generally tend to underrate the quality of education in virtual schools, this is not synonymous with the country, it is a global issue.”
He emphasised that the NUC made sure there are strict regulations and guidelines to ensure quality in the local open learning centres to make them compete with others globally.
He said: “Distance learning acceptance is not only poor in Nigeria but it is all over the world because people think that there is little rigour but they are not aware there is rigour.
“It is true that there is no rigour in the daily class activities, lecturer and students interaction but there is rigour to diminish the gap to quality.”
He, however, said authorities of virtual institutions needed to improve facilitation of the learning process, give students the experience that they are attending a school.
He added: “You need to give students the experience of knowing the other members of the class of discipline so that at the end of the training, they are better than their face to face in school counterparts.”