The need to use innovative learning to improve the Nigerian economy especially in the period of recession was the focus of a recent Annual Lecture organized by the Distance Learning Institute Students’ Association (DLISA) of the University of Lagos. The lecture themed “The Role of Open and Distance Education in Attaining Sustainable Economy,” focused on the need to develop the country’s human resources for growth and development.
Dr Olamide Adesina, Director, Open and Distance Education of the National Universities Commission (NUC) said that research has shown an interrelationship between higher education and national development. In her view, any country that desires to attain sustainable development ought to give the much needed attention and commitment to higher education, especially university education. She said priority should be given to programmes that can bring about economic turnaround. Adesina called for entrepreneurship as part of curriculum in higher institutions, adding that anti-corruption ‘war’ should be mainstreamed into the programmes of the universities. “University education is beyond getting a degree or preparing students for employment. Rather, it should broaden students’ mind and horizon, empowering them to discern connections, effectively analyse problems and exhibit creative understanding. These attributes must be in the kitty of those who turn the fortunes of the hope of a nation’s development around. The higher the number of individuals who possess these abilities, the greater is the hope that there will be development,” she said.
Professor Olukayode Amund, Director, Distance Learning Institute (DLI) University of Lagos, said open learning seeks to remove all unnecessary barriers and restrictions to learning based on the principles that the provision of education must be flexible, thus enabling as many people as possible to take advantage of learning opportunities. According to him, open learning requires the establishment of structures and conditions that enables learners to acquire knowledge where, when, what and how they want to be taught.
Amund said that in the past one and half years, Nigerians have known what economic recession entails based on their own experiences and living standard than by textbooks definitions of the concept. Against this background, the don argued that it has become imperative to give more attention to open and distance education considering its correlation with social and economic development. This is because a society of literate and skilled citizens has a greater chance of socio-economic development.
Oba G.B Aderibigbe, the Alayandelu of Odo Ayandelu, Jamade 1, said that the proper training of the youths is key to the growth and development of a nation. “One of the most challenging issues we face in Nigeria is that of the youths’ involvement in violent acts and conflicts, their participation in violence is either a direct or indirect product of the structurally violent nature over the years. However, all of these can be stopped through the introduction of the various youths empowerment programmes,” he said.
Olawoyin Titus, President of DLISA, said that the purpose of the lecture series was to expose students and teachers to the reality that learning goes beyond the classroom. The theme of the lecture, he noted, re-echoes the fact that for Nigeria’s economy to get off recession, the country needs to break away from the norm. “We need to look inwards to do things differently with the right mindset and approach,” Titus said.
By Pita Ochai