The National Open University of Nigeria, (NOUN) has requested from its Chinese partners, one million learning tablets to advance online education in the institution.
The Vice-Chancellor (VC) of NOUN, Prof. Abdalla Adamu, made the request, Monday, during the opening ceremony of a 5-day regional workshop on Using Online Learning and Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) to Promote Quality Higher Education in Abuja.
The workshop was organised by UNESCO in collaboration with NOUN and other partners with 35 participants drawn from Sierra Leone, Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Benin Republic, Nigeria and other West African countries.
The VC said that NOUN had over 516,000 registered students on its systems across the country, adding that it had the potential to double the number in a short while.
According to him, some of the students are indigent, who can hardly afford study materials, adding that availing such facilities will help them.
“We are asking our partners from the International Centre for Higher Education Innovation (ICHEI), China, to help us with one million learning tablets, free, to make study materials available on them.
“A lot of our students are poor, they are Keke Napep riders, road side fuel sellers, they are girls, boys working in salons, restaurants while a few work in public service organisations.
“The majority are young people who did not pass their West African Examinations, Joint Administration Matriculation Board examinations and they are trying to learn.
“Even the data on their phone for them to access our programme is difficult for them and they cannot even afford buying mobile tablets.
“ICHEI have the capacity, we don’t mind them branding their names and which is like marketing; all we care is for our students to have access to our course materials offline and it will make them better students,” Adamu said.
He added that the Federal Government could take up the task of educating employers on the potential of virtual universities.
According to him, the Ministry of Education could sensitise the civil society on virtual learning, especially in the current society where people are glued to their mobile devices.
“The civil society is still made up of people who are anti-technology because they didn’t grow up with it.
“But any child of about 10 years old living in the city is aware of satellite television and Information Communication Technology.
“The Federal government needs to make the civil society aware of the fact, that online learning is the future of learning and the country,” he said.