The Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, says no fewer than two million resources deposited in the form of courseware, lecture notes, textbooks, videos, maps, podcasts as well as conference presentations, and journals are warehoused as repositories for the Nigerian University System (NUS), established by the commission in 2017.
Prof. Rasheed disclosed in his address in Abuja, at the two-day High-Level Sensitization Workshop organized by the NUC in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), aimed at mainstreaming OER in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Nigeria.
Represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary, Mr. Chris Maiyaki, the executive secretary explained that the OER repository was established as part of efforts to revitalize the academic content of the nation’s universities as well as improve the quality of teaching and learning, adding that workshop was conceived and designed to bring to the fore, the benefits of OER in higher education.
The NUC boss said that the repository facility, which is maintained by the commission, is currently hosted by 153 Nigerian universities and was named the Nigerian University System (NUS) Open Education Resources, (NUSOER), in its bid to fully encourage the institutionalization of OER.
He explained that the repository was being maintained by the commission, to among others, serve as a gateway to Open Resources held by 153 universities in Nigeria since 2017, remarking that in the course of the workshop, the national OER repository would be formally unveiled and presented.
Rasheed said the commission, in its effort to galvanize the universities and assess their full commitment to the OER movement, would continue to evaluate and rank Nigeria’s HEIs, as part of efforts to give them visibility and place them on the world OER map.
The executive secretary expressed NUC’s readiness to always organize and collaborate with relevant agencies to engage in capacity programs to improve the executive capacities of top university leaders and ensure that all higher education institutions were seen to be operating at full strength with some considerable reputational capital.
The chairman of the occasion, Prof. Olusegun Bamiro gave a brief historical background on the Open Education Resources (OER) and highlighted that the concept of OER was first mooted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and cultural organization (UNESCO) at a meeting on the impact of open courseware for higher education in developing countries held in July, 2002.
He said that the main attribute of OER lies in the ability to use education resources for free, noting that with the support of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), NUC championed the development of an OER policy for higher education in Nigeria in 2017.
Bamiro said that the policy was presented to the global community at the second world OER Congress in Ljubljana in September 2017 and subsequently approved the implementation during the Ministerial Session of the 63rd National Council on Education (NCE) in August 2018.
He said that the importance of OER had been clearly recognized in Nigeria’s National Policy statements, hence the establishment of a national implementation committee at the NUC.
In his goodwill message, former Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Peter Okebukola said that the credit of OER must be given to Prof. Rasheed for his foresightedness concerning university education in Nigeria.
He explained that the advantages of OER include the ranking of Nigerian universities based on OER. The ranking, he said, would stimulate competition among Universities and urged the stakeholders to take bold steps to expand the OER message.
The Vice-Chancellor of NOUN, Prof. Olufemi Peters congratulated NUC for the sensitization workshop, which, he explained, demonstrated the Commission’s role in the development of Nigerian universities. He said that digital learning was now a must for any educational system to move forward.
Peters noted that OER is an integral part of open solutions to learning, which had facilitated access to proper learning materials for both teaching and learning at a reduced cost.
The VC elaborated that the resources have been of immense support to students not just in our local universities but also from within and without the country.
In his remarks, the Vice-President, Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Dr. Venkataraman Balaji said the COL was a member-country driven organization as well as an inter-governmental organization, which Nigeria had been a member since its inception.
He said, Nigeria had remained a member of the permanent setup of COL comprising six permanent members and had been both a great contributor to COL as well as a recipient of many partnerships and services from COL.
Balaji mentioned that the relationship had been working in both ways; with COL’s contribution to Nigerian consisting of advocacy for Open learning, advocacy for distance learning, and advocacy for online learning. He said that COL had been working with NUC, in particular, to promote policies that benefit open learning, offer more open education resources and offer improved faculty capacity to work with technology in learning.
Other goodwill messages were delivered by the representatives of agencies including the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Nigerian Teachers Institute (NTI), National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), and National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
In a vote of thanks, Deputy Director, Open Distance, and e-Learning, NUC, Hajia Hadiza Ramallan thanked Mayaki for the successful coordination of the programme, the COL representative from Vancouver Canada, vice-chancellors that were present, and Prof. Olugbemiro Jegede for the brief historical background on OER.