There is an adage that says ‘a stitch in time saves nine’. This goes also for your life goals and ambitions in relations to Age and Time. Education is key to greater tomorrow but not JAMB/UTME. In a situation where you believe obtaining formal University education/certificate is essential for you, it will not a bad idea if you obtain this through Open and Distance Learning especially as Working Class or highly-engaged individual.
Here are the factors that I thin should encourage you in drawing up favorably for Distance Learning while thinking University Education/Certificate.
1: Curriculum: When it comes to Minimum Benchmark For Academic Standard, NUC being the umbrella National Body all Nigerian Universities has uncompromised Curriculum that MUST be upheld by all Universities in all their Undergraduate and Postgraduate Programmes regardless the mode of Learning delivery. This puts every Open and Distance Learning Students in Nigeria at no disadvantage to their Conventional Counterparts. What I mean by this is that, the required Courses, Units, Topics, Sessions/Years for all Conventional Programmes are the same for all Open and Distance Learning Programmes which make the Graduates from both modes of learning delivery competitive except for those that are unserious at both ends.
2: Academics: One of the Key Quality Assurance Measures NUC require for any prospective and active Open and Distance Learning Institutions is the Quality of Academic Staff Members available for Distance Learning Recipients (Students). Their ranks, qualifications and ODL-Trainings are scrutinized from time to time by NUC to ensure standard of teachings being dished out to Distance Learners. Traditionally, the Academic Staff responsible for teaching at Conventional Programmes/Departments are usually ‘tapped-on’ by Distance Learning Centres for Learning Delivery. However, NUC sternly recommends Distance Learning Centres/Institutes to have their crop of Academic Staff of equal standard/qualification as the conventional.
3: Administration: Administrative Strata of Open and Distance Learning Institutions are clearly spelt-out in guideline from NUC which ODL Institutions must follow. Remarkable call for Open and Distance Learning Centers Autonomy by NUC is one of the vital pull that sets some ODL Institutions apart ahead of Conventional Programmes as the Centres are expected to run at the speed of light without any hindrance whatsoever. This autonomy allows ODL Centres to employ her Academic and Non-Academic Staff and getting all her administrative finances sorted from her IGRs with recourse and accountability however to the Central Body of the University. This allows the Director, Deputy Directors, Academics, Bursary, Registry units and other departments/units to function seamlessly with no excuse of Industrial Action or Administrative challenge.
4: Certifications: Having put in place Quality Assurance Measures which are being checked constantly, the certifications for Graduates of both Distance Learning Centres and Conventional Programmes are always the same with not discriminatory tag whatsoever. This builds confidence in the Students and enables them competes favorably with other Students globally having gone thorough no deficient system but a thorough one like others. The same Vice Chancellor in Conventional Programmes ‘vice-chancellor’ Distance Learning Programmes and issues the same Certificate to all. This is one utmost condition that necessitates uncompromised Quality Assurance measures in all of Distance Learning Activities.
5: Market Acceptability: Having cut off the barrier of discrimination between Distance Learning Certificates and Conventional Certificates, the Labour Market therefore becomes the field for ‘Show of Competence’ for all categories of Graduates regardless their programme modes before Graduation. This is enough to boost the morale of any intended Students to the chance of Distance Learning rather than waiting forever for conventional Institutions Admission Quota which is being reduced annually as a result of Infrastructure Deficiencies in Nigerian Higher Institutions.
6: Robust Learning Resources: Exploration of technology by Distance Learning Centres to bridge the challenge of Space and Time confronting Conventional Mode of Learning is another great feat. The Learning Contents, Administrative Activities, Support Systems, Learning Delivery among other fundamentals of learning are being powered with the use of Technology in Distance Learning Centres. What this therefore implies is that, if all the dots are rightly placed, hardly will a Graduate of Distance Learning Institution be computer illiterate which is popularly tagged ‘Analogue’.
7: Divergence of Recipients & Connections: One essential rudiment of Distance Learning Programmes is the attraction it creates to working class and ‘responsible’ adults. Relationship is crucial and this is very paramount in Distance Learning Mode of Study. You get to meet fellow Learners that are ‘made’ in their chosen career or line of business but only coming back to School for self-purposes. I don’t want to over-stress this….everybody knows what connection means!
8: NYSC /Discharge Certifications: The popular National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) which Graduates from Conventional Programmes enjoy are right now being extended to Distance Learning Graduates. It is a known fact that there is paradigm shift of age-grade category of Nigerian Distance Learners. The programme is currently being explored by young Adults who may have been frustrated by Joint Admission Board (JAMB / UTME) and those that never even bothered themselves but rather opted for Distance Learning. The privilege for NYSC is now open to them all.
9: International Study Exchange/Advancement: International Institutions accept certificates issued to Distance Learning Graduates since the discriminatory factors demarcating Conventional Learning Graduates from Distance Learning Graduates have been removed. Transcripts are prepared and forwarded to International Institutions and the Distance Learning Graduates there continue his/her study abroad with no challenge. This creates room for international competitiveness.
10: Conventional <=> ODL Studentship Transfer: Some Open and Distance Learning Institutions have established cordial documentation/registry with their Conventional Registry and Academic Departments which makes Distance Learning Students migrate to Conventional Programmes (if necessary) seamlessly and vice versa.