'What NOUN needs to do to tame high rate of students drop-out'

By Joy Akiga
Prof. Okopi

The Director, Makurdi Study Centre, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Prof. Fidel O. Okopi, has said to avoid high rate of drop-out of students from the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode of education, there must be an efficient, effective and impactive learning support for students at various study centres.

Okopi stated this in a chat with NOUN News correspondent in his office in Makurdi, Benue State.

He said based on a research he conducted, NOUN students experience some difficulties in accessing and utilising support services at the study centres.

The outcome, Okopi disclosed, shows that there is a magnitude of difficulties experienced by students in accessing and utilising support services at various NOUN centres after enrolment, which continues to cause an inactive participation in their learning processes.

The research, according to him, also indicates that there is a high level of drop-out and inactive students due to the fact that students do not utilise the facilities available to them or the non availability of such services.

The director explained that the finding was that majority of students find time management as the most challenging obstacle encountered in the course of their studies at the centres, while technology, literacy/adaptation to online learning as the easiest challenge encountered in their course of studying with NOUN.

Another disturbing issue, Okopi continued, was in 2023 when it was discovered that only 14.91% of total enrolment in the university was active in the learning process at the centres.

The director posited that to understand students difficulties seeking support, accessibility and utilisation of service are crucial for developing effective strategies to improve retention rate.

He identified risk behaviours and early warning signals among drop-out issues, inadequate access to study materials, not belonging to any learning facilitation group, study circle, tutorial group, not getting time or no responses to inquiries and not getting the needed support from the university, family friends, among others.

Okopi called on the university to continuously redefine its support services at the centres, as NOUN is guided by its core values that distinguish it as a specialised higher education institution with unique niche of clientèle different from other universities in Nigeria.

He suggested that for equity and equality, the university must strive to achieve equality in the faculties and services to facilities, support to learners in all locations, communities and for all individuals.