National Universities Commission (NUC) has said it would introduce electronic education programme otherwise called “e-learning” in all federal universities, polytechnics and colleges of educcation in the country.
The e-learning, an initiative aimed at creating linkages between universities, polytechnics and colleges of educations in Nigeria with their peers overseas was first launched at the University of Benin last year
Coordinator of the e-learning Programme, University of Benin, Idon Akogun disclosed this on Friday in Benin City at the launch of the second phase of programme.
To ensure its workability, Akogun said NUC was seeking funding from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) to have a pilot project in each of the geo-political zones.
“We are hoping that very soon, the TETFUND will approve such a request and bring this project to each zone of the country and show the benefits of having an international component in each of our universities.
“That way, our students cannot just leave the universities with their degrees, but have an international component to that degree; they will be able to compete with students all around the world”, he stated.
Akogun said he believed that having a programme like that, Nigeria would have a better labour force ready for the change that was going through right now and Nigerian graduates would be well equipped to face the future.
According to him, apart from the pilot programme which began at the University of Benin, “We have had letters of interest from the Ahmadu Bello University, University of Port Harcourt, University of Ilorin and Uthman Danfodio University. From there, it will be extended to other institutions around the country”.
Noting that the maiden programme was very successful, the e-learning coordinator said the technology proved many skeptics wrong that Nigeria was more than capable of sustaining ICT.
He said: “All over our country, people play with their cell phones, they are on social media. So, we have to enhance the classroom. We cannot expect our society today to be moved by technology without our education moving in that same vein”.
However, Akogun acknowledged there had been setbacks and shortcomings that had to do with equipment, size of the TV screen, speakers and erratic power supply.
In order to overcome these problems especially electricity supply, he said they had to rely on the use of generator for the entire course of the day as well as setting up a modernised multi-media centre so that every student could see and hear clearly from all sides of the class what the faculty abroad was saying.
“So, if the programme is running for a two-hour session, we use generator throughout that period until we are able to get ultimate power, like solar panels or other avenues to sustain the programme”, adding that the one week programme was borne out of a partnership with UNIBEN and Lincoln University, USA which feature lectures on the global perspective of nanotechnology by Dr. Zahra Asrasiabi from Lincoln University.
He explained that nanotechnology was a new technology that has been used in the United States and all around the world for manufacturing and production.
On the cost implication of the programme, Akogun revealed that students did not pay for the programme because the Chairman of the Governing Council and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin took it upon themselves to make sure that the programme was fully funded by the university.
“But the financial cost of the project depends on the courses chosen by the participating tertiary institutions in Nigeria. If a Nigerian tertiary institution wants five courses in the sciences, it would be different from being interested in fewer courses. But what we want to achieve is to make sure that if the schools cannot afford it in the long run, the government can come in to assist the students. In most cases, we want each of the students that participated in week-long programme to receive a certificate of completion from the foreign university partner”, he said.
Responding, one of the benefiting students, Obaka Odafisamon, final Year., Dept of Biochemistry, Faculty of Live Sciences, described it as a wonderful programme as it had afforded him the opportunity to hear first-hand from a professor at Lincoln University, USA via words, pictures and practical demonstrations.
Besides, he said they also had the opportunity to ask questions and those things they did not know about which the lecturer explained.
Also, Kelechi Temitope of the same department and faculty said he gained a lot of knowledge about nanotechnology and from the teaching technique which was obviously different from the one they were used to in their classroom.
“This one makes it much easier to understand the concept and very interesting to learn. It is not like the normal boring lecturers we are used to in our classrooms. It is easier to follow the lecturer, basically”, he said.