20th Anniversary: How NOUN propelled to an ODL powerhouse, by Peters, former VCs

By Justina Undiandeye & Favour Egwu
Round table

The Vice-Chancellor, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Prof. Olufemi Peters, has said the university has grown to become a leading university in digital delivery as well as Open and Distance Learning in Nigeria and West Africa.

He stated this at the university’s 20th Anniversary Celebration, which kicked off with a Round-Table Discussion alongside three previous Vice-Chancellors of the university and other invited guests on Wednesday, March 22, 2023 at the university’s headquarters in Abuja.  

The discussion, which x-rayed the journey of the only ODL university in West Africa since its resuscitation in 2003, had the theme “NOUN in Nigeria Higher Education System: Impact, Achievements, and Next-steps, and was moderated by Francis Egbokhare, Professor of Linguistics, Department of Linguistics and African Studies, University of Ibadan.

Peters’ three predecessors, Emeritus Prof. Olugbemiro Jegede, Prof. Vincent Ado Tenebe and Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu each took turns to lay bare their respective stewardships, the ups and downs and the sterling qualities that put the university in a class of its own.

In his welcome address, the host and current Vice-Chancellor thanked the ex helmsmen and particularly noted them for being excellent change-makers that paved the way for him.

Peters said each one of them contributed to getting NOUN to where it is right now, citing the ending of missing results menace, admission difficulty and improving the digital space of the university.

Speaking, Prof. Jegede stated that NOUN has shown that what was impossible in 1983 is indeed possible. “It showed that ODL was achievable and brought education to the doorstep of everybody.

He advised that for NOUN to expand, revolutionary programmes hinged on community development and street-relevant programmes need to be implemented.

"This will improve the finances of the university and will lead to more staff development and  increase staff welfare," the one time VC said.

On his part, Prof. Tenebe re-echoed his predecessor’s statement, emphasising on the need to introduce more programmes that would aid staff development and welfare, urging them, however, to work hand-in-hand with the university and be diligent in their duties so that it would be a mutually beneficial endeavour.

He praised the university for being consistent in providing access to quality education to many Nigerians who would have otherwise been left behind and also contributing to the development of the country by providing skilled personnel in various fields.

Tenebe stressed that it was important for everyone involved to work together to ensure that NOUN continues to provide quality education to Nigerians and contribute to the development of the country.

The immediate-past Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Adamu, disclosed how NOUN has had a significant impact on the educational landscape as one of the few universities in Nigeria to use the ODL model and as one of the first institutions in Nigeria to use technology in its operations by offering online courses and examinations, which proved helpful during the advent of  Covid-19.

Adamu praised the university for introducing a range of digital tools and resources to support students, such as online libraries, interactive tutorials, and virtual classrooms.

He added that those who would have otherwise submitted multiple applications to traditional universities now have hope, thanks to NOUN's year-long admission, which was very important in a country where there are significant barriers to accessing higher education.

The Director, Regional Training & Research Institute for Distance and Open Learning (RETRIDOL), Prof. Christine Ofulue spoke on where NOUN is, what the university has done and its plans for the future.

A Professor of Science Education, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Prof. Uchenna Nzewi spoke on the perception of the Nigerian university system on the National Open University of Nigeria, while Prof. Uduma Oji Uduma, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics), NOUN, in his vote of thanks, appreciated everyone for coming, stressing that the university has not even reached its full potentials as a number of projects and plans are in the offing for its growth.