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NUC wants Open Educational Resources policy to fit into varsity system

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The National Universities Commission (NUC) has stressed the need for the Open Educational Resources Policy (OER) to fit into the Nigerian Universities System (NUS) for greater efficiency, resourcefulness and competitiveness.

Its Executive Secretary, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, stated this in Abuja at a High-Level Sensitisation Workshop on Mainstreaming OER in Higher Education in Nigeria.

The workshop was in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) Vancouver, Canada and the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).

Rasheed, who was represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary, Mr. Chris Maiyaki, said the workshop was aimed at mainstreaming OER and ensuring its implementation for higher education in the country.

According to him, the commission championed the development of an OER policy in 2017, was presented at the global community at the second World OER Congress in Ljubljana in September 2017 and was approved for implementation.

He said: “That is the essence of this workshop; to escalate the issue of OER. We do not want to lag behind as a university system.

“The other universities, having established the ODL centres, have been mobilised and sensitised to do so because when you do that, you are able to join the league of universities with ODL centres.

“All we need to do is to ensure that the policy is fit for purpose, the ecosystem is well established and the quality assurance framework is one that we will be assured of the content and integrity of delivering through the ODL model.

“We hope to mainstream so that there is no plagiarism because we sometimes have to pay attention to the content of what we are receiving into the university system. But, we will put in place those measures that will stem the irregularities or illegality that will arise from this process.”

Rasheed said due to the difficulties to access materials by students and teachers, there was the need for openly licensed materials.

He said Nigeria as part of its policy of expanding and broadening access learning resources had chosen to collaborate with the Commonwealth of Learning and NOUN to augment what was known as the normal statutory provision through the library system.

He said this would enable the universities to catch up with their counterparts in the world so that the universities could be exposed to one of the best repositories on open resources that they would tap in and augment their learning resources.

He, therefore, said the workshop would help boost the skills and capacities of university leaders and academic practitioners on the use, adoption and reuse of open educational resources in their various institutions.

Rasheed said: “The workshop is all encompassing, as it will take the participants through the rudiments of the concept and move into the technological aspect within the ecosystem.

“And also deal with the management and administration and policy driver for effective and efficient domestication of OER in our learning experiences.”

Vice-Chancellor, Commonwealth of Learning, Dr. Venkataraman Balaji, said Nigeria had gained advantage in the area of OER compared to other Commonwealth nations.

Balaji said OER became important during the lockdown as people, who could not get textbooks to be delivered to them, were able to continue learning through the OER through access to phones.

He said: “Nigeria is blessed with excellent human resources, if the right political will is there, it will spur the country to do a greater deal among other countries.

“COL as a member country-driven organisation will continue to work with the government of Nigeria to promote policies that benefit OER.

“Nigeria has excellent policies, excellent human resources, excellent capacities. The best policies, human resources and capacities you have can easily be put together and with the political will, Nigerian education will do well not only in the continental but also the Commonwealth as a whole.

“Nigeria has been leading in the Commonwealth states though having challenges, but these did not stop her from reclaiming her position as the top three in the commonwealth countries.

“Nigeria has been pushing for policy of OER and only a university publishing over 2000 textbooks in the open area. You can say that funding is limited but if a little funding is available you can imagine the kind of leadership you will acquire.”

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