PCF5:Experiences from and impact of Open and Distance Learning in Conflict and Post-Conflict Communities
The challenges of providing educational access to those living in conflict and war-torn areas have featured prominently on a menu of problems confronting the educational sector in developing countries. Rural societies in conflict-affected areas are characterised by ‘distressed livelihoods’ or ‘livelihoods at risks’. They face multiple vulnerabilities caused by environmental hazards, market-related risks and conflict-related uncertainties, which enhance the threshold of vulnerabilities. In many instances, conflict limits people the opportunity to participate in educational activities. Of recent however, commentators have highlighted the potential benefits of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in conflict and post-conflict societies. On the other hand, the problem, however, is that this recognition is not matched by a corresponding commitment on the part of governments to make the potential benefits of ODL a reality to those living in conflict areas who may not be able to access the conventional mode of education. This study aims to analyse the impact of ODL in conflict and post-conflict rural communities in Nigeria. Particular reference will be made to the role of the National Teachers Institute (NTI) and the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) in mounting up certification programmes that have significantly increased access to education, impacted the lives of the people in the communities, and enhanced their means of coping with vulnerabilities. First, the paper discusses significant issues that arise in general debates about the role played by ODL with respect to sustainability in conflict and post-conflict areas. This is followed by the institutional framework put in place by the Nigerian government in deploying ODL to marginalised communities. After which, a summary of secondary data concerning distance learners, instructional facilitators/councillors and prospective learners’ perceptions about benefits of participation in the NTI and NOUN programmes in conflict and post-conflict communities will be discussed. To conclude, the paper recommends that a comprehensive framework needs to be put in place by the government in deploying accessible technologies to enable those living in marginalised communities to reap the Education for All Goals.