STAKEHOLDERS in the tertiary education sector have validated a draft National Policy on Open Education Resources as part of efforts to address the dearth of learning resources in quality, quantity and currency in higher institutions in the country. No fewer than 340 participants at a one-day stakeholders’ validation symposium, which was held at the National Universities Commission (NUC), Abuja, considered, finalised and adopted the policy document.
This followed a motion by a member and Advisor of the National Steering Committee on Open Educational Resources (NSC-OER), Professor Peter Okebukola.
Director, Directorate of Executive Secretary’s Office, Mr. C. J. Maiyaki, confirmed the development, which is the first in the history of higher education in Nigeria, in a statement in Abuja.
The concept of OER was first coined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) at a meeting on ‘the impact of open courseware for higher education in developing countries’ held in July, 2002.
The term OER refers to education resources and other materials that have been designed for use in teaching and learning, that are available for use by educators and students, without the accompanying need to pay royalties or licence fees.
The main attribute of OER is the ability to use educational resources for free.
Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Anwukah, who declared the symposium open, recalled that the OER movement gained considerable visibility in 2001 when Charles Vest, the then president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States, announced the institute’s intention to put all of its course materials online for the benefit of all.
This decision resulted in the Open Course Ware (OCW) Project, which, four years after, included over a thousand courses. As a result of the MIT’s initiative, open content consortia are being formed by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across the world.
The minister, who was represented by the director, Education Support Services, Mrs. Justina Ibe, challenged participants to come up with beneficial, cutting-edge inputs that would add value to the policy.
Executive Secretary of NUC, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, who convened the stakeholders’ meeting, disclosed that Nigeria currently had about 585 tertiary institutions (universities, polytechnics, monotechnics, colleges of education, Federal Colleges of Agriculture, Colleges of Health Technology and vocational educational institutions) to serve a population of over 180 million.
He said: “It is crystal clear from the above that the problem of access to higher education in Nigeria continues to be a serious challenge, and the need to redouble our efforts to address same cannot be over-emphasised.
“Inadequate access to tertiary education and enrolment of students in excess of the carrying capacity of the higher institutions has consequently remained a recurring decimal at the tertiary level.”
Rasheed added that, “the National Policy on Open Educational Resources for higher education in Nigeria is government’s effort at ensuring a planned and deliberate approach in the development and improvement of quality teaching and learning materials, curricula, programmes, and course design, as well as planning effective contact with students.
“With the development of this policy, government hopes to address the issues of access to quality higher education and enrolment of students in excess of the carrying capacity by existing higher institutions in Nigeria.”
The convener explained that “the Draft National Policy on OER for Higher Education in Nigeria is a concise document comprising the key elements of mission, vision, goals, OER definition and scope, intellectual property rights and licences, curriculum design and material development.
“It also includes OER in teaching and learning, capacity building, infrastructure and connectivity, quality assurance, implementation strategies and institutional arrangements.” Tribune