PCF5: Effectiveness of Proficiency Skills Development using Open and Distance Learning System in Nigeria
by Mr Felix Kayode Olakulehin
Technical and vocational education/training is an important aspect of Nigeria’s educational and developmental objectives. However, overtime the conventional approach to education has failed to meet these objectives, due to problems such as curricular irrelevance, financial constraints and population explosion. Consequently, the open and distance learning system was introduced as an alternative system of education and training. Thus, the National Open University of Nigeria, the first single-mode Open University in West Africa established a Centre for Continuing Education and Workplace Training to offer proficiency certificate courses in vocational and technical courses. These short courses are directed at improving the skills, competencies and abilities of participants for enhanced workplace effectiveness and to enable them recognize and utilize investment opportunities around them for financial empowerment and personal development. This study reports the outcome of a qualitative investigation of using distance learning approaches for teaching proficiency skills courses like Mobile Phone Repairs, Call Centre Skills, Entrepreneurship/Small business management etc. Using structured interviews and focus group discussions with learners, instructional facilitators/counsellors and prospective learners, the study examined the perception of the participants about the effectiveness of training received in the skills courses on offer. Participants indicated opinions about the instructional delivery, and learner-friendliness of instructional materials received. Participants also discussed the availability of, and effectiveness of contact sessions, as well as multimedia course ware. The findings suggest that, in general, skills development through distance learning system is practicable, effective and useful. Additionally, findings indicated that whilst print materials are issued for instructional delivery, the preference of the learners was for intensive face-to-face practical sessions to complement the course materials. The paper recommended, among others, the use of existing apprenticeship training institution/organizations as venues for practical components of skills acquisition courses. This will enable participants to learn as they interact with others on-the-job and reduce the burden of infrastructural development for support service on the University.
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