Online Degree, Online Courses and Distance Learning in Nigeria

About Online Degree, Online Courses and Distance Learning in Nigeria

Nigeria’s infrastructure capacity is not yet sufficient to make online education and distance learning a significant part of its education system, but that capacity is growing rapidly. Telecom is the top infrastructure priority for the Nigerian government, and as the communications networks across the country are expanded and improved, opportunities for a greater emphasis on distance learning will present themselves.
In addition to the poor infrastructure, Nigeria’s lack of distance learning is caused by a history of brutal repression under a succession of brutal military dictatorships. Like authoritarian governments everywhere, these regimes saw higher education as a threat to their rule rather than an opportunity for prosperity and growth, and so the traditional universities suffered and the growth of distance learning was slowed down considerably. Since 1999, the country has been under a democratically-elected government that has re-invigorated education. As early as 2001, when online education was still in its infancy around the world, the Nigerian Minister of Education announced a national strategy emphasizing distance learning as a solution to the country’s educational problems.
One of the hopeful signs of change is a massive project of digital integration called NUNet. The goal of NUNet is to provide internet connectivity to every school, college, university, and research center in the nation. This will serve a dual purpose: first, it will bring the internet, an invaluable tool for teaching and learning into Nigeria’s classrooms and school libraries, thus enabling students of all ages to learn about the world through the free flow of digital information; second, it will enable those same schools and universities to put their courses and expertise online, enabling a comprehensive system of distance learning that will make higher education a genuine possibility for aspiring students from all walks of life.
This growth, of course, is not without problems. The expansion of telecommunications infrastructure and distance learning has not been accompanied by a coherent regulatory strategy, and Nigerian government institutions have had difficulty providing oversight for the various online schools that have popped up all over Nigeria. This has led to a serious concern about degree mills. Degree mills, fake institutions that provide “degrees” without providing instruction or requiring academic effort on the part of the student, harm societies by undermining the credibility of legitimate distance learning programs and giving false hope to students who believe that the degrees they are paying for will help them gain better jobs. In Nigeria, a lack of government oversight has led to an explosion of degree mills in recent years – some experts have suggested that as many as 80% of Nigeria’s distance learning programs may be degree mills.
As technological capability in Nigeria develops, it is critical that regulatory policies be put into place to ensure that the resulting growth of educational institutions is going in the right direction. The improvements in education in Nigeria over the last several years have been impressive, but there is a long way yet to go. Hopefully, the new democratic government will find its footing soon so that a reliable, independent, and credible system of online colleges and universities can flourish in Nigeria.

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