Why NOUN remains committed to promoting ODL across Africa: Peters

By Favour Egwu
Participants at the end of the opening ceremony


Vice-Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Prof. Olufemi Peters, has expressed the university’s readiness to champion and promote the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode of education across the African continent.

Peters stated this at a 2-day workshop on Open and Distance Learning (ODL) Policy Development for Government Officials in West Africa, held on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at the headquarters of the university, Abuja.

Delegates from Cameroon, The Gambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Togo attended the event, organised by the NOUN’s Regional Training and Research Institute for Distance and Open Learning (RETRIDOL), in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Canada.

The event aimed to equip senior government officials with the necessary tools to develop robust ODL policies, had the theme: "ODL Development for Senior Government Officials in West Africa."

The Vice-Chancellor, in his speech, emphasised the necessity of educational reforms to meet the demands of the 21st-Century workforce, as influenced significantly by technology and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic's impact, Peters noted the surge in distance learning adoption, underlying ODL's role in bridging skill gaps for sustainable development and stressed the importance of robust national ODL policies to drive advancements in higher education and ensure inclusivity.

Drawing from NOUN's experience, he highlighted the institution's commitment to accessible, quality education and its leadership in promoting ODL across Africa, expressing optimism that the workshop's outcomes would facilitate the development of contextualised national ODL policies, fostering regional collaboration for sustainable development.

Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the ECOWAS, Ambassador Musa Nuhu, represented by the Deputy Head of Mission Mr. Muhammad Suleiman Isa, highlighted the workshop's importance in advancing education in the region.

Emphasising the pivotal role of education in societal progress, Amb. Nuhu underscored ODL as a vital avenue for expanding learning opportunities, particularly in regions with limited traditional educational resources.

He commended the organisers for assembling a distinguished group of stakeholders, ensuring a high-quality dialogue on policy development and noted the workshop's alignment with ECOWAS' goals of sustainable development and citizen empowerment.

According to him, the workshop showcased the synergy between RETRIDOL and ECOWAS in enhancing education access across the sub-region.

Nuhu stressed the importance of robust discussions and shared best practices among participants, highlighting the potential for collaborative solutions to regional challenges in ODL policy development and expressed confidence in the workshop's outcomes, foreseeing effective policies to emerge from the collective expertise of senior government officials.

Earlier, the RETRIDOL Director, Prof. Christine Ofulue, welcomed the participants from Ghana, Cameroon, Togo, The Gambia, and Sierra Leone to the workshop, expressing delight at the diverse representation, and underscored the workshop's regional significance.

The director emphasised the RETRIDOL's mandate and explained its commitment to capacity building, regional networking, and fostering partnerships for the promotion of ODL.

Drawing attention to previous initiatives, she noted the workshop's continuity from past endeavours, including workshops on ODL and Digital Policy initiatives held in Ghana and Nigeria.

With esteemed facilitators, Prof. Olugbemiro Jegede and Prof. Francis Egbokhare, leading the workshop, the director expressed optimism for an enriching and interactive session aimed at catalysing national ODL policy development, review, or implementation.