Don raises alarm over increasing exodus of students

By Debbie Nduba
IOU Vice-Chancellor presenting his paper virtually

The Vice-Chancellor, International Open University (IOU), Kanifing, The Gambia, Prof. Chemo Omar Barry, has raised the alarm over the increasing number students leaving the country for studies abroad.

Barry spoke while presenting a paper during the Regional Training and Research Institute for Distance and Open Learning (RETRIDOL) of the National Open University of Nigeria's (NOUN) virtual monthly discourse.

The discourse, which was held on Monday, June 26, 2023, was titled: “How Online Education Can Change the Narratives in Access to Quality and Affordable Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa." 

According to him, "Students' movements from one setting to another remain very challenging mainly because such movements are forced on the population for economic or educational reasons.

"Rural-urban (migration) depletes the best of the population in the rural settings making the rural urban settings population poorer, smaller and largely underdeveloped, and all the skills move away,” he said.

The speaker added that "Subregional (migration) takes away the best of the population from other more attractive nations. Intercontinental (migration is) the most difficult form of migration that has caused brain drain, created irregular migration routes killing thousands of youths, and those seeking knowledge remain in these developed countries refusing to return to poverty and little incentives."

Speaking on the challenges, the Vice-Chancellor said "Even where online education continues to present a more cost-effective and affordable solution, some key areas remain a challenge."

He identified the challenges as internet penetration, technological infrastructure, low digital skills, student retention, among others.

On his part, NOUN VC, Prof. Olufemi Peters, while welcoming the IOU helmsman to the lecturer series, commended him for a wonderful presentation and sharing from his wealth of knowledge.

This will facilitate continuous collaboration between the two universities,he added.

The Director, African Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL), Prof. Grace Jokthan, who represented the RETRIDOL Director, Prof. Christine Ofulue, equally commended the presenter for a well-researched presentation.