News

April 13, 2024

We’ll promote distance learning to improve access to education – Tinubu

Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu has assured Nigerians that his administration will continue to promote Open and Distance Learning (ODL) to improve access to higher education in the country.

Tinubu gave the assurance at the 13th Convocation and Investiture of the third Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin, on Saturday in Abuja.

“We will continue to do this to improve quality, access and affordability,” he said.

Tinubu was represented at the event by Dr Biodun Saliu, the Deputy Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC).

He said the deployment of ODL approach in tertiary education was the major link to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

“Government is, therefore, committed through the Federal Ministry of Education and the NUC to provide the enabling environment to ensure a good delivery of this mode of education in Nigeria,” he said.

The Vice-Chancellor of NOUN, Prof. Olufemi Peters, said the university had maintained its leadership role in promoting ODL across the African continent.

This, Peters said, necessitated the re-election of the institution as the 1st Vice-President on the Board of the African Council for Distance Education (ACDE) during the seventh Triennial Conference and General Assembly held in Kenya.
“The university continues to contribute significantly to Open and Distance e-Learning (ODeL) initiatives. The ACDE is a continental and leading organisation of African universities in ODeL and other higher educational institutions.

“We take pride in offering education that is both flexible and qualitative, yet affordable and accessible.

“We prioritise equity and equal opportunities in education at the university level, striving to widen access and promote lifelong learning.

“Since inception, NOUN has provided scholarships to about 83 inmates in correctional centres, exemplified by a current PHD student in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution.

“From a very humble beginning, the university has grown in leaps and bounds. We have brought smiles to many people who had thought university education was beyond them. Our student enrolment figures have increased.

“Our programme offerings have also increased. From about 1,230 students in 2003, the student population has now grown to about 170,000 active students in 2024 and over 100,000 alumni, straddling important sectors of our economy.

“We have grown from relative obscurity, where many in the tertiary education sector and employers within the Nigerian labour market tried to question the quality of our products, to a pre-eminent position as the undisputed leader in Open and Distance Learning in sub-Saharan Africa,” Peters said.

He noted that the 2024 convocation was unique because of the investiture of the institution’s third Chancellor, the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II.

“The convocation is also unique because of the award of honorary degrees on Dr Innocent Chukwuma, founder, Innoson Motors and Hajiya Hafsatu Ahmed, the first female Hausa novelist from Northern Nigeria,” he said.

He said the choice of the awardees reflected the core values at NOUN which centred on entrepreneurial ingenuity and knowledge based content creativity.

“Indeed, as a mark of the profound admiration of Chukwuma’s entrepreneurial sagacity, the NOUN under my management, has decided henceforth, to acquire only Innoson vehicular products as our operational vehicles,” Peters added.

The Chancellor, the Oba of Benin, who spoke after his investiture, said he was aware of the responsibility accompanying his position.

“My vision for the National Open University of Nigeria is one of excellence, innovation, and inclusivity.
“It is my fervent aspiration to leverage my position as a traditional ruler to enhance the fortunes of this esteemed institution.

“Without any gainsaying, NOUN holds a unique position as a beacon of hope and opportunity in the realm of Open and Distance e-learning mode of instructional delivery.

“We will do our best to ensure that this university remains not only a pioneer in Nigeria but also a shining example across the entirety of the sub-Saharan Africa.

“As we all know, education knows no boundaries, and I am committed to an environment where knowledge transcends borders and transforms lives.

“Together, we will embark on a journey of advancement and progress, guided by principles of integrity, scholarship and service.

“I challenge us all to let us work tirelessly to uphold the values upon which this university was founded, and to chart a course towards an even brighter future,” the chancellor said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 22,175 students in various disciplines participated in the convocation from NOUN 120 study centres nationwide.

While 15,768 are undergraduate degrees, 6,407 earned postgraduate degrees, with the Faculty of Social Sciences producing the highest number.

NAN also reports that 22 of the students were first class, 2,362 PGD graduates, 41 Masters and six PHD holders.