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Journal of Education in Developing Areas (JEDA) Vol. 19, No. 1.

REFLECTIONS ON THE FUTURE OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN NIGERIA: THE DYNAMICS OF DISTANCE EDUCATION OPTION. By OJOKHETA, K.O. Ph D Senior Lecturer, Department of Adult Education, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria E-mail: kojokheta@yahoo.com Tel.No: +2348062746167 Abstract Since higher education is saddled with the responsibility of the generation and production of higher level manpower needs of a country, especially in this age of knowledge-based economy, it becomes imperative to reflect on the dimensions of its provision to meet these needs. This paper, therefore, examined the dimension of the provision of higher education through the distance education option in Nigeria. The paper provided a detailed conceptual clarification of higher education and distance education from the old and contemporary paradigm. It examined how the distance education option (then called correspondence education) was used by the early educated elite to acquire higher educational qualifications overseas since the establishment of a formal higher education had not then emerged in Nigeria. It also examined the contribution of distance education in meeting the higher educational needs of Nigeria, especially those who could not gain access to the conventional higher institutions, in the contemporary age. The paper took a look into the future of higher educational provision and concluded that since knowledge has become the most fundamental resource for the globalized economy, many Nigerians would seek knowledge from tertiary institutions. However, it is also likely certain that the conventional tertiary institutions in Nigeria cannot meet this demand. The dynamics of distance education option becomes imperative. Therefore, the future of higher educational provision in Nigeria lies with the expansion of distance education system. Key Words: Reflections, Future, Higher Education, Dynamics, Distance Education Option

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Introduction Ever since the first university was established in Nigeria in 1948, the number of higher institutions in Nigeria has increased astronomically. According to Ojerinde (2008), Nigeria has on record 90 universities made up of twenty-six federally owned, 31 stately owned, and 33 privately owned. Besides, the National Open University of Nigeria was resuscitated in 2002. In addition, there are forty-one Polytechnics, Colleges of Technology (fifteen federally owned) and sixty-two Colleges of Education, twenty of which are owned by the Federal Government. While it is true that the formal conventional educational system has contributed immensely to the growth of higher education in Nigeria, however, the contribution that Distance Education, as an alternative means of educational delivery system, has made to the growth of higher education in Nigeria is largely unrecognized and unappreciated. Ironically, it was distance education that paved the way or necessitated the emergence of higher education in Nigeria. There is, therefore, the need for a scholarly examination of the contributions of distance education system to the emergence, to the continued growth and to the future of higher education provision in Nigeria. This paper is written to fill the gap created by the absence of this scholarly examination. The Concept of Higher Education: Towards a Definition. UNESCO (1993), in a position paper entitled Future Directions for Higher Education in Africa, perceived higher education thus: .the term Higher Education is taken to embody all organized learning and training activities at the tertiary level. This includes: conventional universities (those with conventional arts, humanities and science faculties) as well as specialized universities (like institutions specializing in agriculture, engineering, science and technology). The concept also includes: conventional postsecondary institutions like (Polytechnics, Colleges of Education, and Grandes Ecoles). under the umbrella of higher education come all forms of professional institutions drawing from the available pool of persons who have completed a variety of forms of secondary education: institutions for the military, the police, nurse, agricultural, forestry, veterinary workers, catering service, tourism, secretarial services, and other possible combinations of programmes (p.6). Despite this all-embracing definition of Higher Education provided by UNESCO, Obanya (1999) contended that this wide spectrum does not exhaust the possibilities of all forms of Higher Education. He argued that:
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It is possible (and this often happens) to have non-formal higher education. Any situation, in which mature persons are organized for building up on their knowledge and skills, to apply knowledge to the analysis and search for solutions to life problem, can rightly be classified a Higher Education. This is particularly so when such programmes are intended to equip the beneficiaries to play leadership roles in various(p.6). From Obanyas submission, we can argue that the process of organizing mature persons to acquire knowledge and skills and the application of this knowledge to provide solutions to life problems pre-dated the establishment of the first conventional higher education in Nigeria. In other words, there was Higher Education in practice even before the establishment of the first formal higher education in Nigeria. While the conventional higher education was not in existence at this period, there was, in existence, an alternative form of higher education which provided the people the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills through correspondence education which later transformed into Distance Education. The Concept and Features of Distance Education: The Early and Contemporary Paradigms There is no universally acceptable definition of distance education. This field of study has been perceived in different ways by different scholars. Besides, many terminologies have emerged from country to country to describe this form of education. Similarly, many non-traditional forms of education have come to be associated with distance education which, in fact, are not but merely have similarities with it. For example, Keegan (1990) had observed this misrepresentation of the different forms of non-traditional education. He wrote that: Distance Education is a generic term that include the range of teaching/learning strategies referred to as correspondence education or correspondence study at further educational level in the United Kingdom; a home study at further education level and independent study at higher education level in the United State; a external studies in Australia and a distance teaching or teaching at a distance by the Open University of the United Kingdom..(p.39). From these lists of different interpretations given to distance education in many countries, it shows that distance education, subsumes many existing terms. Suffice it to say that an attempt must be made for an adequate conceptual understanding of what constitutes distance education. Moore (1973) defined distance education as: .the family of instructional methods in which the teaching behaviours are executed apart from the learning behaviours including those that, in a contiguous situations, would be performed in the learners presence, so that communication between the teacher and the learner must
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be facilitated by print, electronic, mechanical, or other devices (p.664). The key elements in Moores definition are: the separation of teacher and the learner and the use of technical media. Dohmen (1967), in his own definition, perceived it as: A systematically organized form of self-study in which student counseling, the presentation of learning materials, and the securing and supervising of students success is carried out by a team of teachers, each of whom has responsibilities. It is made possible at a distance by means of media which can cover long distance.(p.9). The central issues in this definition are: the organization of self-study by an institution, the use of media, and the differences, from direct contact, between the tutors and the students. In a radical definition of distance education, Peters (1973), who provided one of the greatest conceptual guides for the study of distance education, wrote that: Distance education is a method of imparting knowledge, skills, and attitudes which is rationalized by the application of division of labour and organizational principles as well as by the extensive use of technical media especially for the purpose of reproducing high quality teaching materials which make it possible to instruct great number of students at the same time wherever they live. It is an industrialized form of teaching and learning (p.206). The most important element in Peters definition is the perception of distance education as an industrialized process of teaching and learning. In other words, he associated the teaching/learning process in distance education with the industrial production process. Other features of Peters definition are the use of technical media and the mass education of students at a distance. Homberg (1977) also perceived distance education as covering: The various forms of study at all level which are not under the continuous immediate supervision of tutors present with their students in lecture room or in the same premises, but which nevertheless benefit from the planning, guidance, and tuition of a tutorial organization (p.25) From these definitions, some important characteristics of distance education can be fathomed. Keegan (1980) analysed some of the best definition on distance education and concluded that the definitional elements of distance education are: i. The separation of teacher and learner which distinguishes it from face-to-facelearning. ii. The use of technical media, usually print, to unite the teacher and the learner
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and carry the educational content. iii. The provision of two-way communication so that the students may benefit from or even initiate dialogue, iv. The influence of an educational organization which distinguishes it from private study, v. The possibility of occasional meeting for both didactic and socialisation purpose, and vi. The participation in an industrialized form of education which, if accepted, contains the genus of radical separation of distance education from other forms within the educational spectrum. Keegans definition emphasised the teaching of students as individuals and the importance of individualisation in distance education. In as much this characteristic remains prevalent in the study of distance education; the advent and revolution in information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has made the teaching of students as a group possible in distance education. Thus, the group of students can be taught, as stated by Garrison and Baynton (1987), through audio conferencing, teleconferencing, and computer conferencing in addition to the physical groupings. From this observation, therefore, there is the need to add seventh characteristic element which is the possibility of grouping of distance students through electronic devices like teleconferencing, audio conferencing, computer conferencing in addition to occasional face-to-face meeting with the tutors and their colleagues. From this analysis, Keegan went ahead to provide a convincing definition of distance education as: that field of education endeavour in which the learner is quasi-permanently separated from the teacher throughout the length of the learning process, the learner is quasipermanently separated from the learning group throughout the length of the learning process; a technological medium replaces the interpersonal communication of conventional, oral, group based education; the teaching/learning process is institutionalised (thus distinguishing it from teach yourself programmes): two-way communication is possible for both student and teacher (thus distinguishing it from other forms of educational technology). It represents an industrialisation of educational process (p.41). Keegans definition provided a clearer picture of what is not distance education and how it is different from traditional form of education. In other words, any teaching/learning process that is not institutionalized and any teaching/learning process which is one-way communication without provision for feedback cannot be regarded as distance education. The Contemporary Perception of Distance Education There have been many definitions of distance education/distance learning put forward in modern literature. Greenberg (1998) defines contemporary distance learning as a planned teaching/learning experience that uses a wide spectrum of technologies to
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reach learners at a distance and is designed to encourage learner interaction and certification of learning. Teaster and Blieszner (1999) say, the term distance learning has been applied to many instructional methods: however, its primary distinction is that the teacher and the learner are separated in space and possibly time. Kaufman, Watkins & Guera (2001) perceived distance education as a means of delivery of useful learning opportunities at convenient place and time for learner, irrespective of the institution providing the learning opportunity. From these definitions we can see that the student and the teacher are separated by space, but not necessarily by time. Besides, in the contemporary world, this separation between the learner and tutors is being gradually bridged by a wide spectrum of technologies, such as: videotaped lectures, the internet, the compressed video, teleconferencing, video conferencing, computer conferencing, among others. The Phenomenal Growth of Distance Education Distance education has been accepted as an alternative mode of educational provision and standard component of education. The shortcomings of the traditional/conventional method of education, together with other factors, paved the way for emergence and acceptance of distance education as a standard educational provision. Wedemeyer (1977), while writing on the shortcoming of the conventional education, stated that conventional teaching and learning makes use of concept of learning and teaching that have preserved the old mystiques, which have maintained space-time barriers to learning. The phenomenal growth in distance education starting from the 70s was both qualitative and quantitative. Keegan (1982) wrote that this growth can be attributed to: i. The development of new communication technology; for example, e-mail, internet, website facilities, fax, telex among others ii. A growing sophistication in the case of printed materials; iii. Improved design of instructional materials; iv. Improved provision of support services for students studying at a distance; v. The foundation in 1969 of the Open University (UK) at Milton Keynes and the subsequent foundation of a series of similar structures in both developed and developing countries. Jevons (1987) gave four reasons for the growth of distance education which are: i. The need to upgrade qualifications, ii. The convenience of distance study as opposed to part-time, campus based study, iii. The changing status of women in our society, and iv. The respect accorded distance education. James Hall (1987) also wrote that the increase revolution in telecommunication paved way for the acceptance and growth of distance education. He submitted that; the increase revolution in telecommunication has the potential to increase access to learning. Knowledge can be carried into the most isolated and into basic social institutions and situations.
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Distance Education and the Emergence of Higher Education in Nigeria As a result of the absence of any higher educational institution in Nigeria until 1948, when a university college was established in Ibadan, those Nigerians in search of higher education qualification but had no financial wherewithal to travel overseas to pursue their dream had no alternative than to embrace correspondence education (now distance education) which afforded them the opportunity of studying to acquire higher degree without leaving the shores of the country. Correspondence education became acceptable to these Nigerians, mostly from the southern region, because British correspondence colleges notably the University Correspondence College, Wolsey Hall, and Rapid Result College were established in Nigeria to assist these learners in their preparation for London University examinations through materials, tutorial assistance, and other facilities. Thus, by 1887, some Nigerians, for the first time, enrolled for the examination of London University as external students; although, they all performed woefully in this examination. But by the first decade of twentieth century, Omolewa (1982) reported that some Nigerians had not only passed the London Matriculation Examination; but had also graduated and obtained the degrees of London University in various discipline as external students. Notable among them were Eyo Ita and H.O. Davis who passed the London Matriculation Examination in 1925. E.O. Ajayi who obtained the universitys degree in philosophy in 1927. Alvan Ikoku who graduated with the degree of the University in philosophy in 1929, J. S. Ogunlesi obtained a degree in History in 1933, and S.A Banjo obtained a degree in Philosophy in 1933 (Omolewa 1982, 1985). Other early educated elites in Nigeria who got their degrees through correspondence education were: S.O. Adebo, A.T.O. Odunsi, A.Y. Eke, Kehinde Sofola, Olisa Chukwura, M.A. Adeyemo, N.K. Adamolekun (Afolabi-Ojo, 1986). It is pertinent to state that correspondence education was also used as a means of preparing Nigerians for qualification lower than the university degrees. Among the sub-degree examination then were: the London Matriculation Examination later replaced by the Higher School Certificate (HSC) and the General Certificate of Education (GCE) examinations. In spite of the establishment of the University College in Ibadan in 1948, many Nigerians continued to patronise the British, Correspondence Colleges which eventually assisted in building the careers of the early educated elites in Nigeria (Omolewa, 1982, 1985). In the last 31 years, University Education Programmes in the country began to witness a lot of changes in terms of instructional delivery mode in some of our tertiary institutions. The Correspondence Open Studies Unit (COSU) of University of Lagos that started in 1974, which later changed to Correspondence and Open Studies Institute (COSIT) and now known as Distance Learning Institute was the first attempt made to establish a distance education unit as part of a University in Nigeria. It began initially to offer programmes in Science Education at first degree level in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics for National Certificate of Education (NCE) holders and Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) for degree holders who did not posses teaching qualifications.

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The National Teachers Institute (NTI) started as a distance education institution in 1976 (as the first dedicated distance education institution) with the support of UNESCO. It began by training Grade Two Teacher (TC II). The Nigerian Certificate in Education (NCE) programme was introduced when the expectation was that the minimum teaching certificate in Nigeria was expected to be NCE. The Institution also introduced the PGDE programme in the year 2005. Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) also started its distance education through a training programme known as Teachersin-Service Education Programme (TISEP) for Grade Three and Two Teachers sand later the Nigerian Certificate in Education (NCE) programme. Also in November, 1972, the University established a University of the Air programme for teachers in secondary schools and teacher training colleges. The Distance Learning centre (DLC), of the University of Ibadan which started in 1986 as External Degree programme of the University is another institution which adopted the distance learning mode (Ojokheta, 2000). The National Open University (NOU) was first established in July, 1983, by an Act of the National Assembly as the first distance learning tertiary institution in Nigeria when it became crystal clear to the then Federal Government that the ever growing demand for education by her people cannot be met by the traditional means of face-to-face classroom instructional delivery. The institution was closed down few weeks after its establishment and the Act that established the University was suspended in 1984 by the then Federal Military Government that overthrew the civilian government. Many years after the closure, the compelling reasons that informed the earlier establishment of the National Open University (as well as the need to fill the gap created by the Federal Government clamped down on mushroom outreach study centres of many Conventional Universities all over the country, and the need to take advantage of emerging developments in the field of ICTs which have revolutionized the techniques and methods of instructional deliveries in the distance learning mode) necessitated the resuscitation of NOU under a new name National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) in 2002. NOUN is the only Mono-University providing Open and Distance Education in Nigeria. Other universities providing distance learning are Dual-Mode Universities providing both regular and distance learning mode of studies and they are not open in nature. Distance Education and the Present Status of Higher Education in Nigeria At no other time in human history is the issue of acquisition of knowledge more predominantly emphasized than now. Knowledge is being perceived as the most fundamental resource man needs to survive in this age of globalisation. This view was buttressed by Petrella (1997) when he noted that: knowledge has become the fundamental resource for the New Globalised Economy based on information and communication. Similarly, Boucouvalas and Henschke (2002) contended that: ..the global economy is today information intensive, not material intensive, meaning that wealth has to be redefined in term of knowledge consequently, people have to be constantly updating their knowledge, not just for economic growth, but for the values and norms
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necessary for democratic and citizenship.. Information will make citizens aware of the challenges, threats, and opportunities of globalization (p.134). The search for the acquisition of this knowledge had led to an increasing demand for access to higher education. As Dodd (1978) noted: the demand for learning has been astronomically high and the thirst for it, particularly in the third world countries, is now almost proverbial. However, in spite of the apparently large number of higher education institution in Nigeria, only a small percentage of qualified applicants gain access to the universities and other tertiary institutions. Adesola (2002), while buttressing this assertion, submitted that if one compares the number of applicants to Universities with the number admitted each year, one cannot but note the large wastage in the system. Using the University as a case-study, the large wastage is reflected in the table below:
Year No. of Universities 53 54 56 75 76 90 Total No. of Applicants 997,380 1,046,950 841,878 916,371 803,472 1,054,053 Total Number of Admission 51,845 105,157 122,492 N/A 123,626 200,000 Percentage Admitted 5.2% 10.0% 14.5% N/A 15.4% 19.0% Left Over

2002/2003 2003/2004 2004/2005 2005/2006 2006/2007 2007/2008

942,535 941,793 719,386 N/A 679,846 854,053

Source: Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (2008). From this table, it can be seen that a pattern of consistency in the admission exercise has been established. That is: over 80% candidates have been unsuccessful to gain admission into the Universities over the years. This implies that the enormous existing conventional Universities have been catering for just 20% while the wastage rate has been tremendous. To confirm this, Ojerinde (2008) affirmed that out of over one million students that sat for 2008 University matriculation examination, less than 200,000 of them could be admitted by the existing ninety Conventional Universities in Nigeria. Suffice it to say that the continuous growth of higher institutions emanates from the incapacity of the institutions to satisfy the geometric rise in peoples demand for further educational opportunities. It is obvious, therefore, that another alternative means of education to take care of this 80% wastage rate is imperative and inevitable. Distance Education is the alternative means and its relevance in the present status of higher education in Nigeria cannot be underestimated. In addition, if knowledge is viewed as the most fundamental resource of a nations economy, then it means that the human resource is not only the place for the production, transmission, and dissemination of knowledge, but it is also the cornerstone of the nations economy. In this sense, there are many working adults who desire to upgrade their knowledge and qualifications in response to technological
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change and thus become well informed workers but who cannot, for one reason or the other be enrolled in tertiary institutions as conventional students. As aptly put by Petrella (1997) the economy is becoming a global economy, no one can dismiss the need for global competition, get yourselves qualifications, workers of the world. The only alternative means for the workers to achieve this is through Distance Education. Distance education affords them the opportunity to learn while simultaneously working. In modern trend, higher education cannot participate to the fullest in the academic and social development of Nigeria without the contribution of Distance Education. This informs the reason why many tertiary institutions in Nigeria have integrated Distance Education as a complementary component into their mainstream educational services. ICT and Instructional Delivery at Higher Education Level: The Relevance of Distance Education System The mode of instructional delivery in this contemporary age, and probably in the future, is likely to be influenced by telecommunication systems combined with network computer. This is because according to Moore and Kearsley (1996), the telecommunication media have become very convenient and cost effective ways to facilitate teaching and learning. With the revolution and explosion in Information Communication Technologies, it is now possible to conduct teaching and learning through these technologies. In fact, in the developed world, teaching and learning are now increasingly conducted through teleconferencing, audio-conferencing, audiographics, two-way video conferencing, computer conferencing, computer-based instruction as well as electronic learning. Taylor (2002) brought another dimension to the use of technologies in teaching and learning when he separate the technologies based on the delivery over the internet and the promises to combine the advantages of good quality CD-ROM based on interactive media. Hence, automated response systems and intelligent database are now promoted through these technologies. Similarly, the Learning Circuit Organization (2006) submitted that electronic learning covers a wide set of applications and processes, such as: web-based learning and virtual learning which are becoming more irresistible and popular among learners on a clarity basis. Taylor (2002) equally contended that electronic learning will reduce the cost of education to the learner and also encourage economics of scale which can lead to increase in access to education and other training activities worldwide. The use of these technologies in the teaching and learning process especially at higher educational level, therefore, can be seen a inevitable though, some of these technologies are too complex and sophisticated for adoption in developing countries; Nigeria inclusive, because of the low level of technological development. Nevertheless, the impact of these technologies on teaching and learning cannot be underestimated. More of teaching and learning in the contemporary age are now being conducted through electronic mails which are a form of electronic learning.

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The implication of this is that the application of these technologies is much more promoted in distance education system than in conventional system. In fact, Garrisons and Anderson (2000) viewed Distance Education as a succession of generations of technologies. The analysis is that the use of these technologies at the higher educational level is likely to be promoted through Distance Education system than Conventional Education system. Hence, the future of teaching and learning at higher educational level lie with these technologies and Distance Education. Distance Education and the Future of Higher Education in Nigeria It is now an established fact that no nation can afford to provide education to all citizens through the traditional classroom based face-to-face mode. As a result, the 2004 Revised Nigerias National policy on Education (section 5) advocated that: Maximum effort will be made to enable those who cannot benefit from higher education to be given access to it. Such access may be through universities or correspondence (now called Distance) course or OpenUniversities or Part-Time and Work Study Programme. As a result, the policy document detailed the goal of Distance Education should be to: Provide access to quality education and equity in educational opportunities for those who otherwise would have been denied. Meet special needs of employers by mounting special certificate course for their employees at their work place. Encourage internationalization especially of tertiary education curricula. Ameliorate the effect of internet and external brain in tertiary institutions by utilizing Nigeria experts as teachers regardless of their location of place of work (p.45). As a response to this, the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) was established in 2002 to complement the efforts of the existing conventional institution in the production of quality manpower need of the nation. The two important catch words upon which the future of a nation rest are the knowledge/information economy and knowledge information society. The survival of the society depends on the state of the economy; and knowledge information will ensure the survival. To ensure this survival, it connotes that higher education institutions, according, to Omolewa (1982, 1985), should be able to meet and satisfy the need of people in the educational system, should be able to absorb all eligible candidates, should be able to give equitable opportunity to people to prove themselves educationally in spite of a variety of limitation, and should be able to make higher education openly accessible, affordable, and equitable to all Nigerians It is certain that these conventional tertiary institutions cannot single handedly ensure this survival. Distance Education has a tremendous part to play in sustaining the survival. Therefore, the future of higher education will not seem assured without the contributory impact of distance education. Conclusion
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From the analysis presented in this paper, it can be deducted that Distance Education has played and will continue to play a commendable role in the emergence, growth, and sustenance of higher education in Nigeria. Therefore, the future of higher educational provision in Nigeria lies with the expansion of Distance Education system.

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