ODeLAN 2023: Peters recommends micro-credentials in Nigerian education system

By Debbie Nduba
Prof. Olufemi Peters delivering his keynote address


The Vice-Chancellor, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Prof. Olufemi Peters, has stressed the need for implementation of micro-credentialing in the Nigerian education system, especially within the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) institutions.

Speaking at the Inaugural Conference of the Open, Distance and e-Learning Association of Nigeria (ODeLAN), Peters emphasised that micro-credentialing is the future of education.

The conference, held at the Babcock University, Ogun State, was organised by OdeLAN in collaboration with NOUN, had the theme: "Global Spaces, Local Contexts: Digital Transformations and Creative Innovations in Open, Distance and e-Learning (ODeL)."

The Vice-Chancellor said, "My analysis has led me to suggest that there is potential for micro-credentialing to be implemented in the Nigerian education system, especially within the open and distance learning institutions; but it is important that the policy framework be designed to take into account the specific needs of the country.

Vice-Chancellor/ President, Babcock University, Prof. Adeola S.Tayo delivering his welcome address

"Overall, it is my belief that the Nigeria distance education community cannot be a mere by-stander waiting for bits of knowledge and insight to come from the external wing of the global community.

"We must take charge of the implementation of micro-credentialing as an acceptable model for open, distance, and eLearning in Nigeria."

According to him, considering that micro-credentials are still in their early stages in Nigeria, this is a critical time for higher education institutions, particularly ODeL, to adapt to the evolving challenges in the face of the changing employment market and start rethinking how and what competencies and skills are provided to students.

"This will enable us to bridge the skills gap by diversifying our educational offerings to include micro-credentialing in order to equip students with the necessary skills to meet current and future labour market needs," he said.

Cross section of participants

Micro-credentials, Peter's advised, should be well integrated into current institutional programmes for the purpose of re-skilling and up-skilling the individuals (workers and students) in their lifelong learning pathways to open up possibilities in the labor market.

He envisioned that Nigeria will want to get involved in this movement in a systematic and organised way.

ODELAN is well placed to lead the fray in evolving a policy on the implementation of micro-credential in the Nigerian education delivery space in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education and regulators such as the National Universities Commission, the NOUN VC said.

"As a first step, there is need for a national Stakeholders’ sensitisation workshop on micro-credentials to unpack the fundamentals of micro-credentials and its potentials for the ODL community in Nigeria," Peters, who was the keynote speaker at the event, added.

Earlier in his welcome  address, the Vice-Chancellor/ President, Babcock University, Prof. Adeola S. Tayo, said
The conference came at the most opportune time as the global space is witnessing unprecedented revolution in technological advancements and educational delivery, following the watershed Covid-19 pandemic.

ODeLAN President, Prof. Frances O. Egbokhare delivering his welcome address

According to him, technology is a vital element that cannot be ignored in any sector, more so in the educational sector.

“I am happy to note that this conference has not only brought together academics from various institutions of higher learning in Nigeria and across Africa, but it has included the industry especially tech industries, thereby bridging a gap and creating a much desired intersection between the educational sector and the industry. This for me is a mark of putting into practice the core of the conference theme - innovation and transformation," he said.

In her welcome address, the Director, Babcock University Centre for Open Distance And E-Learning (BUCODeL) Prof. Mobolanle Sotunsa, reiterated the importance of distance and e-learning as the future of education in Nigeria.

Sotunsa, who was the chair of the conference's LOC, disputed the notion that regular-mode students are superior to their ODL counterparts, noting that e-learning students have access to high-quality learning resources.

On his part, ODeLAN President, Prof. Frances O. Egbokhare, ran through the history of ODeLAN and commended the Nigerian government for taking the bold step to open up the Nigerian education space to the teeming population of education-hungry Nigerians.

He said government, through NUC, has simultaneously instituted an elaborate regime of quality assurance.

Director, Babcock University Centre for Open Distance And E-Learning (BUCODeL) Prof. Mobolanle Sotunsa

He lauded the NOUN -RETRIDOL and the COL for giving ODeLAN a pre-conference workshop on research.

“Of course with the generous funding support of NOUN, Prof. Olufemi Peters, VC of NOUN, is qualified to be described as a patron and prime supporter of ODeLAN," he posited.

The conference featured paper presentations, a tech fair, where a number of organisations exhibited a cross range of technological tools and innovations, a roundtable discussion, where discussants from different IT companies enlightened the participants on the topic, the Tech Eco System and Education Revolution, Health check-up encompassing blood pressure, sugar level, and eye check.

It also had in attendance the President, Africa Council for Distance Education (ACDE) and President of LAWEH Open University, Prof Goski Alabi, President, National Association of Distance Education and Open Learning in South Africa (NADEOSA), Director, Open, Distance Learning (NUC), Engr. Kayode Odedina, Dr. Ruth Aluko, Babcock Vice- president/Deputy Vice- Chancellor, Prof Philemon O. Amanze, NOUN DVC Academic. Prof. Uduma Orji Uduma, Director, NOUN -RETRIDOL, Prof. Christine Ofulue and a host of other dignitaries, researchers and erudite scholars from other universities.

The highlight of the opening ceremony was an Acapella rendition by the Chord team and a skit by Classic world concept from the host university.