International Educator - May/June 2019 - 23

Steps Toward Improvement
Despite many past failed attempts to reform
Nigeria's higher education system, recent
efforts give cause for cautious optimism.
In October 2018, the Nigerian federal
and state governments declared a state of
emergency in the country's educational
system, a move that hoped to assure
the deployment of more resources to a
sector long deprived of adequate funding.
Earlier in 2018, NUC released a plan for
improving higher education, titled Blueprint
on the Rapid Revitalisation of University
Education in Nigeria 2018-2023.
"The educational sector is on a
refreshingly rebounding note," says Peter
Okebukola, distinguished professor of
science and computer education at Lagos
State University and former head of the NUC.
The Blueprint outlines key metrics
used to measure improvement. It targets
areas such as university access, curriculum
quality ratings, quality of facilities,
adequacy of the numbers of teachers, and
improved funding models.
Okebukola says some progress has been
made through this initiative. For example,
the Blueprint calls for a 20 percent
increase in access to university education
by 2023 over 2018 figures. By the close
of admission for the 2018-19 academic
year, the factor of increase will be about 6
percent, Okebukola says.
The Blueprint also calls for the
curriculum of Nigerian universities to be
rated among the best three in Africa in
terms of its record of producing nationally
and regionally relevant graduates. Toward
that end, a revised curriculum will be
launched by June 2019, Okebukola says.
Another effort to improve the higher
education sector came in April 2018, at the
annual conference of the United Kingdom's
Quality Assurance Agency. There,
Abubakar, the NUC executive secretary,
announced that more than 290 new
universities were planned for the country.
Nigeria is also aiming to recruit an extra

"We need to look for a less resource-intensive model,
a more collaborative approach that involves the stringing
together of many institutions and pooling activities."
-FRANCIS EGBOKHARE
10,000 university lecturers in the next 5
years, which would take the total number
to about 72,000-an improvement, but
still short of the roughly 88,000 academics
needed to close the current shortfall.

Distance Alternatives
Because of the scope, scale, and accessibility
of mass open online courses (MOOCs)
and other online education options, some
say distance and hybrid education forms
may be better able to provide the higher
education opportunities needed.
"The numbers go way beyond the
capacity of the system," says William
Bertrand, a professor of public health at
Tulane University who assisted in setting
up schools of public health in six African
countries, as well as learning systems at
American University of Nigeria, where he
is vice chair of the board. "The challenge is
to train the educators to train the students.
The only viable option now is to make
virtual education available to everyone, and
there is some movement in that direction."
The National Open University of
Nigeria, a federal open and distance
learning institution, currently enrolls about
500,000 students, but plans to increase
enrollment to about 1 million in the next
3 years, Okebukola says. Five leading
Nigerian universities also offer open and
distance learning options.
Egbokhare served as director of the
University of Ibadan's Distance Learning
Center from 2004 to 2010. During his tenure,
the number of students participating in the
center grew from 800 to more than 15,000.
"Online learning can make a big
difference, but we need a regulatory agency
and regulations to move in the direction of

what works best," Egbokhare says.
Smartphones, ubiquitous in the country,
are a possible learning technology game
changer for students who cannot afford
computers to gain access to the internet.
"A lot of my students use mobile phones,"
Egbokhare says. "I have structured the
learning curriculum in my class so that
it [incentivizes] them to use phones for
learning, not just chatting."

Reinventing the System
The current higher education system is
stymied by foreign models that are poor
fits to the region's needs, as well as a failure
to creatively leverage existing resources to
address immediate demand.
"In the west, when you step out of a
university, it is horizontal [to an equally
developed outside environment],"
Egbokhare says. "In Nigeria, universities
are artificial communities removed from
their environments, which is too much for
any university to deal with."
"We need to look for a less resourceintensive model, a more collaborative
approach that involves the stringing
together of many institutions and pooling
activities," he says. "We need layers of
institutions that specialize in different
things. Currently, innovation is not
rewarded, and funding does not support
creativity and excellence."
One potential solution to help solve
the current excess of students at toptier public institutions is to affiliate new
universities with these lead universities,
says Egbokhare, and then direct student
overflow to them-something he says
is currently limited by the existing
regulatory framework.
M AY + J U N.2019 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR

23  



International Educator - May/June 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of International Educator - May/June 2019

From the Desk of
In Brief
Global Spotlight: Iran
Quick Questions
Feature: Africa’s Education Evolution
Feature: Mental Health: At Home and Abroad
Feature: The Faces of International Education
Education Abroad
International Student Affairs
International Enrollment Management
International Education Leadership
Forum
Take 5
International Educator - May/June 2019 - Cover1
International Educator - May/June 2019 - Cover2
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 1
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 2
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 3
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 4
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 5
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 6
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 7
International Educator - May/June 2019 - From the Desk of
International Educator - May/June 2019 - In Brief
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 10
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 11
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 12
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 13
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 14
International Educator - May/June 2019 - Global Spotlight: Iran
International Educator - May/June 2019 - Quick Questions
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 17
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 18
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 19
International Educator - May/June 2019 - Feature: Africa’s Education Evolution
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 21
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 22
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 23
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 24
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 25
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 26
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 27
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 28
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 29
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 30
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 31
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 32
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 33
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 34
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 35
International Educator - May/June 2019 - Feature: Mental Health: At Home and Abroad
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 37
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 38
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 39
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 40
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 41
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 42
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 43
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 44
International Educator - May/June 2019 - Feature: The Faces of International Education
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 46
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 47
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 48
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 49
International Educator - May/June 2019 - Education Abroad
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 51
International Educator - May/June 2019 - International Student Affairs
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 53
International Educator - May/June 2019 - International Enrollment Management
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 55
International Educator - May/June 2019 - International Education Leadership
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 57
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 58
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 59
International Educator - May/June 2019 - Forum
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 61
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 62
International Educator - May/June 2019 - 63
International Educator - May/June 2019 - Take 5
International Educator - May/June 2019 - Cover3
International Educator - May/June 2019 - Cover4
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