Professor Joshua Alabi, a member of the Governing Council of the Laweh Open University College, Ghana, has called on the country’s authorities to adopt and promote open and distance online system of learning, especially for tertiary education students.
Open online education is a flexible part-time mode of learning that allows distance learning using online platforms to offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
He said the open online system of learning would help workers with interest in furthering their education without quitting or leaving their jobs.
Prof. Alabi said currently, per the country’s tertiary educational system, only about 16 out of 100 qualified students that applied were given admission into public tertiary institutions due to structural and functional inadequacies.
Meanwhile, he said, the open system could help to resolve all those problems and offer prepared students the opportunity to acquire knowledge at the time they wanted.
Prof. Alabi, who was a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Professional Studies, made this known as the Guest Speaker at a convocational lecture organised by the Laweh Open University College in Accra, on the theme, “Relevance of Open and Distance Learning in Contemporary Ghana.”
For many years, the Ghanaian educational system had focused more on certification than learning, thereby, contributing to an increase in examination malpractices, he said.
“With open online education, you are not forced to learn, you are a disciplined and matured person who knows exactly what he wants to learn, puts in his best and takes the studies seriously to excel,” he explained.
The Guest Speaker said there were many knowledgeable and skilful individuals in different vocational and technical works, who had been denied access to education because they did not possess certificates, which was wrong.
“There is the need for a paradigm shift in Africa’s educational system and when you meet someone at the basic level and you do not give the person a chance to progress, how do you determine that the person is capable,” he asked.
“If we have a taxi driver or caterer, who is well educated, we will get quality service, therefore we need to give them the opportunity,” he added.
Prof. Alabi advised the youth to be key advocates for this educational reform and put pressure on policymakers to implement policies in that regard to support the system.
When the system is approved, workers who are given the chance to learn would positively impact on students and academicians with practical hands-on knowledge and vice versa, he said.
Professor Elifas Tozo Bisanda, the Vice-Chancellor of the “Open University of Tanzania” speaking at the event, said an open online system of learning instilled a sense of discipline in students and made them responsible for their development.
The system allowed students to request to write an examination earlier than the end of a semester when they had prepared adequately, he said, adding that the system was flexible, relevant, accessible and contributed immensely to national development.
Prof. Bisanda noted that since Africa’s educational system focused on certification, sometimes students only attended lectures just to mark ‘present’ in an attendance sheet but paid little or no attention to a lecture, especially when they knew they could access everything lectured on the internet.
“If today, everybody can read books and online books, then why do we need lectures? That is the question. On the open online management system, as soon as the person logs in, it shows the student is online,” he said.
Mr Alex Tetteh Enyo, a former Minister of Education, said he was happy that the Laweh University showed the possibility to use open and distance education as a vehicle to enhance educational access, flexibility and cost reduction.
“It is my prayer that the University with its partner in Tanzania use the medium to create quality education for the Ghanaian society and Africa at large,” he said.
Laweh Open University College is the first accredited Open University in Ghana situated at Nungua and affiliated to the Open University of Tanzania.
It offers Bachelors and Masters Degree programmes in Finance and Accounting, Marketing, International Business Management, Entrepreneurship and Human Resource Management.