Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Access to Higher Education in Developing Countries

A common challenge for developing countries or economies is the inadequate access to Higher education needed for human capital development. For instance in Nigeria university sub-sector over 1.1 million candidates with about 75% of them having the minimum academic requirements, sit for the nationally organized Universities Matriculation examination annually, whereas the existing universities in Nigeria can only absorb about 220,000 new entrants. You can imagine the shortfall and the backlog of candidates that will be thrown into the education market without opportunities of furthering their career until the following year.

In fact this education crisis prompted the government to bridge this yawning gap between demand and supply, the Nigerian government has over the years, taken a number of steps, the most significant being between 1999 and 2007. The government, realizing that she could not satisfy the educational requirements of the nation, invited the Private Sector to participate in the provision of university education. Consequently, between 1999 and 2007, thirty-four private universities were licensed by government with 15 of them established in 2005 alone. The number of private universities has increased to 41 in 2009.

With these measures, the disequilibrium between demand and supply in tertiary education persists, as the private universities put together account for just 5 % of total student enrollment in the Nigerian University System with the 27 Federal universities accounting for about 70% of total student enrollment. Concerted efforts has been put together between 2008 till the time of writing this article to engaged cross-border education in collaboration with open and distance learning. The university commission then identified six dual mode universities and on single mode university for this project.

This approach was tackled with a series of workshops on electronic teaching that focuses on using the electronic media and devices with the internet to teach large classes. This pioneers lecturers selected from these universities will now train their colleagues how to lecture online. This project when successful is to prepare these six distance learning institutions to be able to enroll 50,000 students each and the single mode to be able to enroll 100,000 students.

The training focus majorly on some selected mode of delivering education contents which employ asynchronous and synchronous technologies as medium in reaching the students. Most technologies use in these online course/project falls under these categories.

Synchronous technologies with the use of Skpe and a messaging tool

    Web-based VoIP
    Web conferencing

Asynchronous technologies

    Message boards/forums
    Print materials

The workshop/course deployment employs computer and internet tools for contents access with delivery and may be daubed as a "blended" approach, with content available electronically and remotely. The participant were taught how to redesign their course to suit the distance learner and the online student. A study guide template and an online course design template for various fields of studies were introduced for the participants to adapted to suit the uniqueness of their student's learning peculiarities.

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