Stakeholders validate national policy on open education resources
For the first time in the history of higher education in the country, a draft national policy on Open Education Resources (OER) has been validated to address the dearth of learning resources in quality, quantity and currency in the subsector.
This was the thrust of the decision reached by stakeholders at a one day symposium held at the National Universities Commission (NUC), Abuja where about 340 participants considered, finalised and adopted the policy document, following a motion by a member and Advisor of the National Steering Committee on Open Educational Resources (NSC-OER), Prof Peter Okebukola.
With this validation, the document is ready for the approval of the National Council on Education (NCE) and Nigeria, hitherto missing from the world map of OER, can now take its place. The concept of OER was first coined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) at a meeting on ‘the impact of open courseware for higher education in developing countries’ in July, 2002. The term OER refers to education resources and other materials that have been designed for use in teaching and learning, that are openly available for use by educators and students, without the accompanying need to pay royalties or licence fees.
Minister of State for Education, Prof Anthony Anwukah, at the opening ceremony recalled that the OER movement gained considerable visibility in 2001, when Charles Vest, erstwhile President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), announced the Institute’s intention to put its course materials online for the benefit of all. This decision resulted in the Open Course Ware (OCW) project, which, four years after, included over a thousand courses. As a result of the MIT’s initiative, Open Content Consortia are being formed by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across the world.
Represented by the Director, Education Support Services, Mrs. Justina Ibe, the minister tasked participants to come up with beneficial, cutting-edge inputs, which would add value to the policy.
He said, “Your contributions will help in charting a path for greatness for present and future Nigerians. I stand assured that with this special core of very experienced men and women that have distinguished themselves in various positions, we will together chart a course for sustainable educational development using OER as an instrument.”
In his welcome address, the convener of NSC-OER and Executive Secretary, NUC, Prof Abubakar Rasheed disclosed that the country currently has about 585 tertiary institutions, including universities, polytechnics, monotechnics, Colleges of Education, Federal Colleges of Agriculture, Colleges of Health Technology and Vocational Educational Institutions) to serve a population of over 180 million.