If one considers the economic significance of university education to over 105 million Nigerians, whom CIA andWorld Bank reported to be below our national poverty line, and its relevance to the actualization of Vision-20-20; onewill therefore agrees that rendering mass university education to all citizens (whether they can afford it or not) is indispensable for a true actualization of Vision-20-20 goals and our overall national wellbeing. Even President Obama realized this when he wisely said to his compatriots; “We know that educating every American is the secret of America’s prosperity.”
Consequently, the right question to ask will be: “What actually does it cost to educate every Nigerian?” Whichever ways it is assumed, one will certainly be bothered by the financial constraints our present brick-and-mortar university system posed against the financial muscles of our governments and stakeholders.
An evidence of our brick-and-mortar’s system flaw is uncovered in our yearly matriculation examination statistics; where at every given year of the past two decades, the numbers of Nigeria university applicants are averagely twice all our traditional universities intake capacities. Correspondingly, the Federal Executive Council testifies, “We found a gross inadequacy of the current 117 universities serving a population of over 150 million people.” A fine Illustration of this is the 2014 UTME; which Prof. Ojerinde reported to be written by about 1.7 millioncandidates; however about 1.2 million qualified, but the disturbing aspect is that, the total intake capacity of all universities is not up to 600,000. It means that every of the rest qualified 600,000 applicants will have to be recursively delayed access to university education every year.
Nevertheless, for so long, our nation’s governments have being spending giant proportions of our national treasury in educating our citizenry through the traditional method, but all was to less avail in quantity and quality. This is because majority of the money is spent on constructing, repairing and maintaining the buildings of these universities on one side, and printing and paying copyrights on the other side, and not on impacting education. Although nothing is wrong with that, except that it is prudently possible instead; due to dropping internet-connectivity cost, peer-to-peer pedagogical model and copyright-free educational resource for such to be waived in order to concentrate the saved resources on impacting education.
In my opinion, the best way out is to model the low-cost means of online university education breakthrough introduced by the founder of University of the People to complement our traditional system. This is to establish “onenational Online Learning Campus” for educating all universities students, while exams and practical would be at each student’s home university.
University of the People (http://uopeople.edu) is the non-profit, tuition-free, online university; founded by Shai Reshef in California, in 2009, for two major reasons. The first is to give worldwide access to post-secondaryeducation to those who could not access university education due to financial constraints. Secondly, to show nations’ governments how to operate a low-cost but quality online university education through the combination of peer-to-peer learning, open educational resources, and open-source online learning software; rather than trying unnecessarily so hard with their few millions in building their own Harvard.
The formula for the model is pegged at a minimum of $6 million, and a minimum of 15,000 students who can pay up to $100 dollar for exam administration fee for each of their 40 courses. Nevertheless, since it is tuition-free, if there are some who can prove that they do not have a means to pay – and for them, the fees will be waived, in order that no qualified individual is excluded for financial reasons.
The ultimate solution is online education because it has numbers of advantages over its traditional counterpart, such as unlimited intakes, time flexibility, cheap or zero tuition, less commuting stress, high-tech academic logistics options, among others. Correspondingly, the U.S. Department of Education’s 2010 Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning (http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf)reported: “students who study online perform modestly better than those taking face to face instructions.”
I hereby plead that the Federal and States Ministries of Education to collaborate to stimulate the establishment of a UoPeople modeled Online Learning Campus for educating all universities students. Similarly, I implore NGOs, religious ministries, and stakeholders to replicate what Mr. Reshef is doing, in order that vision 20-20 will not be a mere pipe dream. God bless Nigeria!
– Adebowale Adekoya