Open and distance Education: The Solution to Access


THERE is definitely no gainsaying the fact that the world is gravitating toward Open and Distance Education (ODE) which has become a viable access to tertiary education. Inadequate access for the teeming populace, young and old, even across social strata, seeking tertiary education is a great problem in our dear country, Nigeria. Apparently, Open and Distance Learning is undeniably the solution to access.

Open and Distance Education is the way to go if Nigeria would tag along with global trends in education. We cannot continue to put ourselves in the straightjacket of status quo when a viable alternative offered by the University of Ibadan Distance Learning Centre (UIDLC) is there to be explored.

The UIDLC has come of age and has depicted the very essence of life which is a great contribution to the advancement of humanity. Besides, being an integral subset of the premier university of Nigeria, University of Ibadan, the centre has over the years proven to be that vital part of the system drawing national and global repute to the university.

It is gratifying to note that the Distance Learning Centre has metamorphosed over the years. As the Centre verges thirty, it is necessary to reveal that the idea of Distance Education was conceived by the Department of Adult Education of the University of Ibadan in 1972. Thereafter, the proposal for the commencement of the various programmes was presented to the senate of the university in 1976.

Subsequently, the National Universities Commission (NUC) gave its approval. In 1988, the platform for the implementation of this approved policy was created and was named the Centre for External Studies. The programme was domiciled in the Department of Adult Education, with courses from the parent department (Adult Education) and two other departments, Guidance and Counseling and Teacher Education.

In 2002, the nomenclature of the platform was changed to Distance Learning Centre (DLC) in order to reflect the new vision of the university and to take advantage of the new technological and global environment.

In recent times, the need for a new identity has been deemed necessary, owing to the unlimited potential of the DLC learners’ enrolment. The staff strength of the centre has grown to necessitate this new identity. The centre is now enjoying considerable national visibility; hence a need to consider a name that truly depicts its mandate.

From the foregoing, the Oyesoji Aremu-led administration, which assumed duty on 12 February, 2017 has not ceased to expand the frontiers of ODE in Nigeria. Leveraging on the feats of past administrations, Professor Oyesoji Aremu has been offering a dogged and purposeful leadership to herald a new dawn for the DLC. The administration clocked eight months on 12 October, 2017. I believe it would not be out of place to engage in stock taking.

At the forefront of this stock taking is the full installation of the three halls that made the DLC Computer-Based Testing (CBT) Centre. The centre has seen the installation of computers and full networking of two of its computer-based testing halls. The DLC CBT centre in all now has 1,500-sitter capacity, broken into three separate halls of 500-sitter capacity each, with another 500-sitter capacity waiting hall, named after the immediate past vice chancellor of the university, Professor Isaac Folorunso Adewole.

The CBT Centre has put the DLC in a light of relevance. This is clearly depicted in the 2017 Joint Administration Matriculation Board (JAMB) registration and examination, with the centre playing a key role. The exercise was a pilot test for the centre’s bid to boost its internally generated revenue drive. The 1,500-capacity Computer-Based Testing (CBT) Centre of DLC was at the forefront of this drive.

The centre’s Learning Management System (LMS) platform is at the verge of being launched. On the LMS platform, students can download course materials, videos, participate in quizzes, submit tutor marked assignments which could also be marked and graded.

As the UIDLC commences its 2017/2018 admission exercise, it is important to inform the public and prospective candidates that academic activities of the centre are facilitated by the same lecturers on the university’s regular mode of study. The issuance of the same certificates as obtainable in the conventional university system is also assured. This is technically referred to as PARITY OF ESTEEM – both modes have equal rights and privileges.

At the moment, the Centre has six academic programmes which are fully accredited by the National Universities Commission (NUC). They are: B.A. English, B.A. Philosophy and Public Affairs, B.Sc. Psychology, B.Sc. Economics, B.Sc. Political Science, and BSW Social Work. The Centre is assiduously working towards having four new programmes and five revalidated programmes. The new programmes include Nursing, Computer Science, Sociology, and History and Diplomatic Studies; while the old programmes which revalidations are being sought are Guidance and Counselling,  Educational Management, Library, Archival and Information Studies, Adult Education, and Statistics.

Furthermore, the centre’s bid to shoot higher on the ODE terrain in Nigeria can also be seen in its subscription to Open Educational Resources (OER). These are freely accessible, openly licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, and assessing as well as for research purposes.

Also, in a continued bid to acquaint the public with the centre’s feats and as part of the repositioning agenda of the Oyesoji Aremu-led administration, the initiative to publish a quarterly news magazine tagged: ‘Unibadan ODL Frontiers’ was birthed.

Unibadan Distance Learning Centre is at the forefront of prompt delivery and the centre still towers high. The clarion call then is simple: we need to start making deliberate efforts to plug into the ODL mode of study. University of Ibadan is unarguably a viable case in point as a dual mode university at the forefront of ODE in Nigeria.

By Dayo Olajide