Institutions like the National open university of Nigeria (NOUN) and other virtual institutions in Africa should be given more autonomy and latitude to operate with defined objectives if Africa is to change the education paradigm.
A world Bank experts Dr. Dimitrios Noukakis in an interview with ACETEL News correspondent while on a working visit to Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL) added by making education open, free and accessible the education paradigm of Africa will completely change.
Dr. Noukakis maintained that this change in paradigm may not come in two to five years but through sustained efforts across generations the picture will be different. “The government does regulations and put funds into a system, so they have to think differently on how to regulate higher education like the open university. It all goes down to what you want to promote to me, I will say institutions like the open university of Nigeria and other virtual universities should be given more autonomy to operate with specific targets.
“ The government could operate on service level agreement with these universities even if they’re public to give them enough autonomy to reach their goals. I have seen in some instances where Vice-Chancellor’s can not appoint staffs even if they are brilliant because of certain national procedures which may take long time to undertake. So you have to identify situations that can make a big change with you given the autonomy, the mission and the means to do it and then not interfere with them until they have their goals or reach their assessment period”.
The world bank expert added that using technology to enhance education in Africa particularly higher education will have a huge impact in the continent “ Particularly in Africa there is a huge opportunity to do a leapfrog going from a situation where you see a lot of issues, you see these issues as an opportunity you could actually leverage using technology. You have capacity issue here: a lot of students with shortage of facilities or where to train them, you have quality issues as well because to train these students to certain quality you’ll require enough qualified teachers.
“There is a wealth of information and facilities that could be transferred and use same to educate people here in Africa. I strongly believe technology is the way to go but unfortunately we’re still at the very beginning of using technology to educate people specifically at higher education level in Africa. I think using technology not only in Africa but the biggest impact could be in Africa by making education open, free and accessible”.
Dimitrios Noukakis added that while at NOUN, he was particularly impressed with the facilities as ACETEL according to him will fit into the already provided facilities to answer specific needs of the university. “ACETEL as I see it now is an extremely important project for NOUN. It builds on existing capacity having seen the facilities of the university, I realize ACETEL falls right on top of what is existing and will answer specific needs of the university so that at the end, the university can increase capacity and also have a more larger impact in the country”.