NOUN Degrees are not Inferior - VC

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NOUN Degrees are not Inferior - VC Recently, the Vice Chancellor of Nasarawa State Universi­ty, Prof Muhammad Maino­ma, painted a ...


NOUN Degrees are not Inferior - VC


Recently, the Vice Chancellor of Nasarawa State Universi­ty, Prof Muhammad Maino­ma, painted a gloomy picture about the National Open Uni­versity of Nigeria by describ­ing the programmes run by NOUN as fraud. What is your take on that?


I am not sure and I don't want to believe that Prof Main­oma made that statement, but if he did, I want to believe it was a statement out of igno­rance.
The National Open Uni­versity of Nigeria is not a fraud; it is a Federal Govern­ment owned University estab­lished by an Act of parliament, NOUN Act of 1983. President, Muhammadu Buhari, is the visitor to the University. That is not fraud at all.
NOUN is not a convention­al university; it is an Open and Distant Learning (ODL) uni­versity operating on a standard already established for open distance learning. The Nation­al Universities Commission (NUC), which is the only ap­proved accrediting agency in the country approves, monitors and accredits all the pro­grammes of NOUN like any other university in Nigeria and if anybody is saying that is a fraud, that person is igno­rant. You can go and confirm my statements from the NUC.
So, it is unfortunate if a re­nowned academic or a vice chancellor will made that statement that will misinform Nigerians.

Do you think NOUN gradu­ates have the capacity to com­pete with others from con­ventional universities?


That is an understatement; my students and graduates can compete and even beat their peers from conventional universities. My students have gone on competitions on var­ious professional courses in­cluding Law in this country and they came first. They have won gold medals despite chal­lenges from conventional uni­versities.
We are not joking. I am a Professor, I went through a conventional university sys­tem in this country and I know what it is. I have worked in the conventional university for 23 years from the rank of a Grad­uate Assistant before I became a Professor. This was before I started learning the open and distance learning mode.
Open distance learning is all over the world; it is in United Kingdom, United States, Chi­na, India etc. That is what is making waves; even renowned universities in the world like Cambridge, Harvard, Oxford, MIT, when you go there, you don't find students in lecture rooms; they are busy sitting on the verandas and everywhere taking lecture notes. Some­times, they don't even see their lecturers.
The world has gone digital and technological, so you must not see your lecturers before you get it. Students who are learning through ODL are self-made, they are not pampered, they are not nurtured and not baby seated as in the conven­tional system. If you are able to study on your own, you master the act which is the different.
My graduates are hotcakes in labour market because they are all employed and it may in­terest you to know our mot­to: It is 'work and learn'. Ma­jority of my students are on the job and they are studying full time, so they don't need Indus­trial Training (IT) like the con­ventional students. When they come out, they are already ex­perienced.

NOUN is said to be having is­sues with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and Nigeria Law School. What are you doing to resolve these problems?


NYSC is not a qualification; it is a national service. When the NYSC Act came on board in 1973, NOUN was not in ex­istence and in any case go and read the NYSC Act. It never said that Open University or graduates from distant learn­ing programmes are not el­igible. This is a national po­litical issues; even now, there are so many conventional graduates who do not want to go through the NYSC pro­gramme. Many of them travel abroad to continue their stud­ies while some will apply for exemption so that the problem will be solved.
In the case of Nigerian Law School, they have the right to say who comes there or who does not. The Law Degree of National Open University is an approved programme from the NUC, and the Federal Minis­try of Education. It is equiva­lent to any other one anywhere in the world.
The training in Nigerian Law School is equivalent to a vo­cational training. The school is not a university; it is a pro­fessional body that allows you to practice after you have gone there. They have the right to set the rules and regulations. But what I will let Nigerians know is that NOUN will fol­low due process to meet the re­quirements.
Know that the Faculty of Law graduates do not go there automatically; it takes some time. Even Law graduates from University of Ibadan, which is the first indigenous universi­ty in Nigeria, some years ago, were not allowed to proceed to the Law School until they met the set rules and regulations.
Let me also tell you that Law School is also owned by the Federal Government and established by an Act of 1963; it is a public institution and when my graduates meet the requirements they will go there. It is their right.
NOUN is not a private uni­versity. I am not going to man­age this University to the dis­advantage of Nigerians. If you desire and are qualified to study Law and you do it in NOUN, nobody has the right to deny you because you have worked for it; we must be fair to everybody. I am not a law­yer but a Professor of Agricul­ture.

Travelling to the national headquarters of the school to get their Degree certificates instead of their various study centres. How are you addressing this problem?

Certificates are issued by the Registrar, who is the Secretary to the Senate and the Coun­cil. If you study in NOUN, it is a requirement that you come to the head office and partic­ipate in the convocation and then you collect your certifi­cate when you are ready. We are not going to send our cer­tificates to our study centres and no one will collect any certificate on behalf of others.
If you can take time and go through our programmes for four years and you are not able to come to the head office once to get the certificate it will re­main there.
It is a requirement. It is your own pride to visit the Univer­sity you graduated from. So, anybody who feels that he has graduated but refuses to go there, then he will leave his certificate there. That is the requirement and we will not bend the rules.
There is also the issue of stu­dents who are made to pay for their studies packs but hard­ly get those materials. Why is the school collecting money without providing the mate­rials?
We are not collecting mon­ey; they paid for service. Those materials are produced by lec­turers who are not necessary lecturers of NOUN. We are just coordinating. I have lec­turers from other universities who facilitate writing materi­als, supervising projects and we have to pay them because they are on consultancy basis. Those payments are the con­tributions the students make because those lecturers are not on salary. When they pay N1, 500 or N2, 500 for a whole course material, it must be re­membered that somebody de­veloped that course, edited, and printed it. All these mon­ies are shared.
When the Open Universi­ty was resuscitated in 2001 during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, there was no one single materials ready. We had to assemble academics from all universities, Polytechnics that are academically qualified. We also picked some from Colleg­es of Education. Some from the industries, ministries and parastatals. They are still our facilitators, so, what our stu­dents are paying are the money we are using to produce this. When we were developing the materials, students were in a hurry to get them and we told them to wait until they are produced, but they could not wait, so, the same students pleaded that we should put the materials on the web. We have to pay the Information Tech­nology (IT) companies who are maintaining our servers and ensuring that all the ma­terials are on the web.
The students said they were going to read online and now that we are printing the ma­terials and giving to them, the same students and some fraudulent Nigerians will go online, download the materi­als, photocopy them and sell to themselves at higher prices.
The maximum a student pays for study material is N2, 500 but as I speak to you, our students will go on the streets and buy a bind course material for N10,000, N5,000 and they know these materials were downloaded and photo­copied. When you ask them, they will tell you they can­not go and queue at the stores in the study centres; some of them said they are busy.
All our materials are avail­able. Those who are patient will get them when they queue at the stores. Those who are not patient download it on their own. You can never sat­isfy human beings; they will al­ways complain.
You must also realise that Nigeria is the most populous country in this continent, and there is no way you will think if the educational de­mands of our citizens will be met through conventional universities because it is a very fa­tal population. Every year, 1.5 million candidates sit for the Joint Admission and Matric­ulation Board (JAMB) exami­nation. The whole universities in the country: Federal, States and Private ones can only ad­mit 500, 000 annually leaving one million who are qualified to seek for admission which they will never get. The good thing, however, is that we can admit those one million every year in NOUN.
I am not just telling you the­ories. China that is the most populous country in the world, in 15 years was able to educate 500 million people through Open and Distance Learn­ing Programme. Why won't we take advantage of this? If you think we will admit every­body who needs higher educa­tion through the conventional system, you will need to build a university every ten days for the next ten years in this country. Where do you find the materials? Where do you find the lecturers? Even the ex­isting universities are under-funded; that is why you don't find any Nigerian university in the first 200 in the world. It is not that we are not intelli­gent, rather, we don't have the appropriate equipment due to lack of funding.
As I speak to you now, do you know that there are stu­dents who are studying in the University of Liverpool in Ni­geria and they will finish that course through Open and Dis­tance Learning and go there for convocation? There are over 10,000 Nigerians who are studying in the National Open University of India; they write their examinations here and go there for convocation and collect the certificates. This is the modern way of education. Any archaic, outdated Profes­sor who has not updated his digital knowledge of Open and Distance Learning in the modern technology of education should go to a library. I mean a modern library for that matter to update his own knowledge not to misinform the whole world.

What is the population of stu­dents in NOUN and what is your carrying capacity?

Every day, we admit students and every day we graduate stu­dents. As I speak, a student is keying in, so, if I'm to give you the exact figure that means, I have to go to the internet to know the current figure.
The oldest student in the Open University of Nigeria is now 103 years and he is the paramount ruler of Emevon community in Delta State; he is in 200 level writing exams hale and hearty. We have giv­en him full scholarship. The youngest student is 15 years old. By law, conventional universities cannot admit stu­dents below 17 unless those who faked their ages to meet up to that. That is why we are called Open University; we are open to all irrespective of age, class and status.
We are so different from the conventional system. I chal­lenge you to come and take up a programme in NOUN. We have Master Degree, PhDs in different fields. Are you aware that former President Obasan­jo is now a Master/ PhD stu­dent in the Open University? Are you aware that the Para­mount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru, who is now 83 years old is now a 300 level Law student of Open University? Are you aware that the Emir of Bauchi is a Postgraduate student of Computer Studies in NOUN? Are you also aware that the Emir of Hadeja just graduat­ed? So, we have different class­es, different ages and the learn­ing is interactive and hands on skills.
I have said to all employ­ers of labour in Nigeria that if you have any graduate from NOUN who cannot under­take the assignment given to him based on his qualifica­tion, send that person back to us and we will re-train him and send him back. If we have any graduate of Open Univer­sity, who is parading himself about, saying 'I do not have a job', we want that graduate to come to us and we will show him what to do.

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National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). Abeokuta Study Centre, Ogun State.: NOUN Degrees are not Inferior - VC
NOUN Degrees are not Inferior - VC
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National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). Abeokuta Study Centre, Ogun State.
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