Online Education: The Solution to Nigeria Educational Problem

By Inaju U. Inaju

 The quality of university education in Nigeria, some argues, is taking a nosedive due to many avoidable problems like corruption, greed, poor planning, and bad management of the polity itself. Some pundits posit that what is happening to Nigerian higher institutions are reflections of the overall ineptitude with which the country is managed.

 Be the foregoing as it may, I posit that one way to mitigate the overall problem that bedevil Nigeria is by improving the quality of its educational system.  It is against the foregoing that I strongly believe that if the country or investors can leverage the opportunity that technology provides to avail the Nigerian youth with an alternative but quality tertiary education, it will amount to a win-win situation all around. Online education is one way Nigeria and indeed Africa can rid itself of young men and women who do not have marketable academic qualifications.

 The businessperson that invests in the online educational venture in Nigeria will make profit; there would be no shortage of students. The country’s youth will be guaranteed uninterrupted education that is laser focused.

 It is important to add here that Nigeria has great academic institutions but the bane of these tertiary institutions has been academic and none academic staff strikes and students’ perennial riot that leads to months of students staying away from classrooms. The question then would be, what makes the schools great if the students are not in class. What makes them great is the quality of lecturers that they parade, if we can provide them with a system that will enable them to do their job without interruption, they can stand up to any institution on earth.

 In the last 13 years or more tertiary institutions in Nigeria have experienced strikes that last for months in some cases.  Many students, especially girls, drop out of school for one reason or the other and some loose focus. Studies that would ordinarily take 4 years to complete now takes 5 or more years and in most cases, students are rushed through their studies and graduated before they are ready in order to create room for those waiting to be admitted. It is indeed a broken system.

 As a way to remedy the situation, ensure that students don’t break their studies because of these avoidable problems, guarantee completion of degree programs within a stipulated time frame and ensure continue quality education after first degree, alternative means of delivering quality education need to be explored. At the moment that alternative is online degree program in selected areas.

 My argument is based on a first hand experience. I am pursuing a master’s degree online with one of the most reputable institutions in the world and I can vouch for the efficiency of the process and system.

Why this would work in Nigeria?

 With a population estimated at a hundred and fifty million people, Nigeria is the most populous country on earth when one talks of the black race. It has more than 25 federal Universities scattered across the country. It has polytechnics and collages of educations as it continues to strive to educate its citizenry.

 The population of Nigeria, like most African countries is young, they are eager to be educated and are willing to pay for good education but the problem has been that the schools as it is fails to deliver on the promised quality education because of the mentioned problems.

 According to Punch Newspaper, one of the most widely read papers in Nigeria,

 Although, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) appears to have joined the few trade unions which have declared the highest number of trade disputes almost overtaking the dock workers, not many Nigerians raised eyebrows which was an affirmation of sympathy for the union. This sympathy is not necessarily for ASUU but also for the victims of the obvious negative impact of their action which include hundreds of thousands of Nigerian students, their parents and the nation at large. One peculiar feature of ASUU’s trade disputes is that they have often triggered off other national disputes…

 Such other national disputes that are triggered by ASUU strikes include sympathy strikes by unions like the None Academic Staff Union and the Nigerian Labor Congress. The impact of such labor strikes on the education of the students cannot be overemphasized. Many of the students, if not all, will be happy to pursue their degrees online. Added to this is the large number of the Nigerian labor force that cannot afford to quit their job to further their education. An online education will resolve the problem and provide immeasurable chance for people to develop themselves.

 When people do not develop themselves intellectually after a time, no matter how intelligent they may be, diminishing returns set in and everyone loses, the nation, the organization and the list goes on. To forestall this avoidable gap in our educational institution, ensure educated workforce, I affirm that online education is the answer. It is the future and any investment in that direction can only yield bountiful harvest both in liquidity and academically fortified workforce.

 Before enrolling with the University of Memphis as an online student, I searched online for any University in Nigeria that offers online courses and there was none. Even as I write there is still no single higher institution in Nigeria that offers online studies at any level in Nigeria. I have no idea why this is the case.

 The little discussions I had with my own alma mater tells me that the professors and the University are interested in delivering online education, however, it seems no one is willing to make the needed investment in that direction, it is against this background that I am pitching this proposal for support to quit my job and focus on developing the idea further.

 The good news is that many schools in the West are already doing a great job delivering quality education through online courses. This is good news because we do not have to reinvent the wheel. We can only learn from good practices and avoid the pitfalls that those before us would have fallen into.

 As I write all federal universities in Nigeria has been shut down for more than 2 months due to disagreement between lecturers and the Federal Government over conditions of service for the professors. All efforts to resolve the problem have proved impossible so far. The students are at home. Anyone that is delivering online services at this material time is bound to reap bountifully.

 A brief history of the Nigerian Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASSU), the umbrella body of the lecturers of the federal universities in Nigeria strikes will drive our point home.

Since 1999 there has been about 13 strikes, some lasting as much as 5 months. (See table below)

The gaps created by this strikes has given rise to private universities but the problem with private Universities is that they are priced out of the reach of the average Nigerian family and there are not enough of them to cater to the needs of those who can afford them.

Strikes and Year. (Note that we did not factor in, students’ riots and none academic staff strikes)

Year

Length 1999-2013

1999

5 months

2001

3 months

2002

2 weeks

2003

6 months (ended in 2004)

2005

3days

2006

1week

2007

3 months

2008

1 week

2009

4 months

2010

5months

2010

1 week

2011

3 months (ended in 2012)

2013

2months, 2weeks, and still counting.

 

An online degree that is properly priced will eliminate the strikes and riots; it will deliver education that is as effective as the traditional institutions. It will ensure that students graduate at the right time.

At the moment students are admitted into Universities without guarantee of when they will graduate, added to the foregoing, an online University degree means that you can actually recruit lecturers from anywhere in the world to deliver lectures and this would lead to shared knowledge, quality education and output that will respected worldwide.

In order to create interactions and peer group fraternization, leveraging technology, especially social media to create a visual interactive opportunity for students will lead to networking, something that the youth of today are already savvy about. This would create an effective out of class visual interactions that will lead to, not only shared experiences but also shared experience that is anchored on writing and reading and not verbal.

To ensure that classmates get to meet and know each other, Students will meet physically for 2 months every year when the traditional schools are on the traditional long break.

Success of the Program. 

The success of the program depends on many factors; it depends on strong Internet connectivity, which at the moment is not a problem in most cities and medium size cities across the country.

In order to minimize cost, the program will be in partnership with either mobile telephony companies or with some international Internet service providers, but the best way would be to invest the money needed to set up an Internet provider company that would will be accessed across the country. 

For students that do practical, there will be one academic year on the campus focusing primarily on practical; this is independent of the long brake meetings that happen once every year.

Summery

The future of education is online, a time is coming when students will be schooling online and working in the daytime even at secondary school level.

Technology is changing the way we do business, communication now is through gadgets, understanding it and thinking outside the box as far as education is concerned would be the oil well of the future. Investors who are smart enough to invest in this medium in Nigeria now will be the financial leaders of tomorrow.

 

 
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3 thoughts on “Online Education: The Solution to Nigeria Educational Problem

  1. Misty Menees says:

    Your posts are so insightful. I enjoy a first hand look at what life is like outside the US. We so often take our easy access to education for granted. It’s hard to comprehend the kinds of issues you face on the other side of the world.

  2. inajuu says:

    Thanks Misty, it is a strange world where some have it bountifully and others just tag along. it is the reality that make the world boring and at the same time exciting

  3. Carrie Brown says:

    Great post, Inaju. I think this is an interesting startup idea! And I too like learning about things going on elsewhere in the world in terms of online education and more.

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