Distance Education has been accepted worldwide as a valid alternative to the conventional face-to-face learning. The only difference here is that students and teachers share a physical distance, often bridged by various modern communication techniques.
Distance learning in Nigeria, Africa is comparatively new. But, Nigerian government has taken some worthy steps to give distance education every sort of infrastructural support, so that it can meet up with the huge demand for formal education in the country. To this end, it has started some distance learning institutions as well. Some of the names are the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), the National Teachers Institute (NTI) etc.
Educational Goals of Nigeria
Education has always been prioritised in Nigeria as an instrument of mass empowerment. Pursuit of educational achievement, therefore, has been one of the paramount focuses here. The national objectives of Nigerian education also aim at, as described in the National Policy on Education (2004) integrating individuals into sound and effective citizens. The overall “objectives of Nigerian Education” address:
- Projection of right set of values and attitude for proper developments of individual as well as society.
- Developments of both physical and mental abilities, skills and competencies for preparing individuals to enrich the society.
- Proper acquisition of balanced and relevant knowledge about local and international technology (NPE, 2004)
Distance Learning Fits Best around the Goals
To these aims, programmes and educational structures are tremendously growing to the objectives with distance learning in Nigeria. Distance education can be conceptualised as one of the many organised educational experience employing multiple approach like audio/video broadcasts, internet-based, print, teleconferencing as well as face-to-face teaching-learning. The main benefit of this system is that with teachers physically distant most of the time from the learners, a large number of learners can be taught with a limited number of teachers. This leads to a cost-reduced education, required very much for humble economies like Nigeria.
Real Benefits Distance Learning Offers
Following the expert views of Oguntimehin and Adeyemi (1999:200), Fagbamiye (1999) and Chandler (1991) in defining distance education and open learning, we can indeed say that ” Distance education (as well as, open learning) is a self-paced learning process wherein the student can frame his own time-table according to the time at his disposal. This makes it possible for the people employed in full-time jobs, house wives with numerous household chores and youths waiting for employment to carry on education at their leisure available to them”.
Valid Alternative to Traditional Education
In a nutshell, distance learning can essentially be addressed as a systematic educational process going outside the traditional conceptions of schooling. With the improved employment of internet distance learning even becomes a non-contiguous communication between teacher and student, having an unlimited opportunity to cultivate knowledge. Online distance learning in Nigeria shows exceptionally high degree of interactivity between student and teacher, which can even transport education before rural people and isolated communities.
The Office of Technology Assessment gives emphasis on the utility of interaction, and with online distance learning the opportunity becomes unlimited. With online learning, students can feel the classroom atmosphere even as they are physically present there. This sort of communication revolution makes virtual classroom an experience that denies any deficiency in interactivity, and thereby produced gap in learning.
With such positive aspects online distance education offers, people of Nigeria as well as people all over the world should readily take up the benefits of it. Nonetheless, this mode of learning is relatively new in Nigeria. People here should get aware of its enormous merits fast, so that they can be equally benefited as the people where distance education is already popular.