RETRIDOL’s monthly lecture: COL president advocates standard, quality in ODL institutions

By Sunday Adama
Asha K.

The President, Common Wealth of Learning (COL), Prof. Asha S. Kanwar, has called on Open and Distance Learning (ODL) institutions in Africa to focus on standard and quality delivery so as to give their students the best.

Kanwar stated this during the August edition of ODL monthly discourse organised by the Regional Training & Research Institute for Distance and Open Learning (RETRIDOL), National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).

While speaking on the topic: "African Regional Approach to Quality Assurance in ODL," Kanwar said "Open and Distance Learning is not new to many developing countries which established Open University to democratize higher education.

"Research shows that there is no significant difference between campus and distance learning. Yet, ODL is second-rate. For this reason, many ODL institutions have made extra efforts to demonstrate quality to different stakeholders."

Speaking further, the COL president outlined three steps in which quality assurance could be realised in ODL institutions in sub-Saharan Africa, which, according to her, include: developing standard and quality measures, developing rigorous quality assurance guidelines and capacity building in course development, effective learner support and assessment techniques.

"The ultimate objective of quality assurance is to ensure not just access to quality learning but to students' success that leads to the opportunities for livelihoods," she stressed.

While delivering his lecture on the topic: "African Regional Approach to ODL Quality Assurance: The ACDE-QAAA," the director, Academic Planning, National Open University of Nigeria, Prof. Nebath Tanglang said "Covid-19 pandemic has shaped the way education has to go. Online and Open Education has a critical role to play in the socio-economic development of Africa."

Tanglang, who is also the director of African Council for Distance Education, Quality Assurance & Accreditation Agency (ACDE-QAAA) said "exponential growth of Online and Open Education has led to increase in the demand for higher education, reduction in the amount spent on higher education by government and emergence of new technologies."

On the challenges facing Online and Open Education in West African sub-region, he said there exist a poor perception, adding that Online and Open Education is viewed in some quarters as education of last resort, second-class, second-rate, among others.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Vice-Chancellor, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Prof. Olufemi Peters, urged members of staff to make it a point of duty to participate in the RETRIDOL's ODL monthly discourse so as to be acquainted with the demands of ODL institutions.

"We must also note that this topic is also very important to our work as leaders in the distance learning industry in West African sub-region. Let me also add that I have asked RETRIDOL to advertise and series of this ODL monthly discourse should be attended by every academic staff and the university community.

"I have also asked them to submit attendance to this discourse and others to my office, all should therefore make themselves available in the virtual one-hour effort a must to keep us abreast of the global trend in distance learning," he stated.

On his part, the director of RETRIDOL, Prof. Patrick E. Eya, thanked the participants for their participation and by making August edition of ODL monthly discourse a success.

It could be recalled that maiden edition of RETRIDOL's ODL monthly discourse was hosted virtually on 29th April, 2021 and the essence of it is to keep staff abreast of the global trends in ODL institutions.