…ES @High-level Workshop on Mainstreaming OER in HEIs in Nigeria

No fewer than two million resources deposited in form of courseware, lecture notes, textbooks, videos, maps, podcasts as well as conference presentations and journals are currently being warehoused as repositories for Nigerian Universities, established by the National Universities Commission (NUC) in 2017, the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, mni, MFR, FNAL, has disclosed.     
He made the disclosure in his address last Tuesday in Abuja, at the two-day High Level Sensitisation Workshop organised by the NUC in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), aimed at Mainstreaming OER in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Nigeria.  
Represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary (DES), Mr. Chris Maiyaki, the Executive Secretary stated that the OER repository was established as part of efforts to revitalise the academic content of the nation’s universities as well as improve the quality of teaching and learning, adding that workshop was conceived and carefully designed to bring to the fore, the benefits of OER in Higher Education.
He said that the repository facility which is maintained by the Commission, currently hoisted by 153 Nigerian Universities and was named the Nigerian University System (NUS) Open Education Resources, (NUSOER), in its bid to fully encourage the institutionalisation of OER.
He explained that the repository was being maintained by the Commission, to among others, serve as a gateway to Open Resources held by 153 Universities in Nigeria since 2017, remarking that in the course of the workshop, the National OER Repository would be formally unveiled and presented.
He said NUC, in its effort to galvanize the Universities and assess their full commitment to the OER movement, would continue to evaluate and rank Nigeria’s HEIs, as part of efforts to give them visibility and place them on the world OER map.
The Executive Secretary expressed  NUC’s readiness to always organize and collaborate with relevant agencies to engage in capacity programmes to improve the executive capacities of top University Leaders and ensure that all higher education institution were seen to be operating at full strength with some considerable reputational capital.
Harping more on the benefits of OER, Prof Rasheed said that its use would no doubt enhance the quality of academic content available to learners at little or no cost, stressing that it would also motivate the students to become content creators themselves.
On the part of the teachers, he said that it is hoped that through the use of OER, they would be able to adapt to new methods of teaching and learning, facilitate more interactive learning processes and improve curricula with the most recent developments in their respective fields.
He expressed the Commission’s unwavering commitment to increasing access to quality University education to the generality of Nigerians.
The Chairman of the occasion, Professor Olusegun Bamiro gave a brief historical background on the Open Education Resources (OER) and highlighted that the concept of OER was first mooted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and cultural organization (UNESCO) at a meeting on the impact of open courseware for higher education in developing countries held in July, 2002.
He defined OER as education resources and other materials that have been designed for use in teaching and learning which were openly available for use by educators and students, without the accompanying need to pay royalties or license fees.
He said that the main attribute of OER lie in the ability to use education resources for free, noting that with the support of the Commonwealth of learning (COL), NUC championed the development of an OER policy for higher education in Nigeria in 2017.
He said that the Policy was presented to the global community at the second world OER Congress in Ljubljana in September 2017 and subsequently approved the implementation during the Ministerial Session of the 63rd National Council on Education (NCE) in August 2018.
He posited that this is an achievement of considerable merit and clear evidence of the purposeful leadership of the NUC in championing innovative policies in the Nigeria Education System. He said that the importance of OER had been clearly recognized in Nigeria’s National Policy statements, hence the establishment of a national implementation committee at the NUC.
In an online presentation of goodwill message, former Executive Secretary NUC, Prof. Peter Okebukola said that the credit of OER must be given to Prof Rasheed for his foresightedness concerning University education in Nigeria. He further stated that the Policy guiding OER provided for the creation and use of same to increase access to and support quality teaching learning and research in Nigeria higher education system.
According to him, in so doing, the policy sought to strengthen OER commitments by HEIs and all concerned stakeholders.
He explained that the advantages or goals of OER include the ranking of Nigerian Universities based on OER. The ranking, he said, would stimulate competition among Universities and urged the stakeholders to take bold steps to expand the OER message.
The Vice-Chancellor of NOUN, Prof. Olufemi Peters congratulated NUC for the sensitization workshop which, he explained, demonstrated the Commission’s role in the development of Nigerian Universities. He said that digital learning was now a must for any educational system to move forward.
He argued that OER is an integral part of open solutions to learning which had facilitated access to proper learning materials for both teaching and learning at reduced cost.
The Vice-Chancellor elaborated that the resources have been of immense support to students not just in our local universities but also from within and without the country.
Prof. Peters stated that the OER play a key role in the implementation of academic policies, and in the case of NOUN in collaboration with COL, it played a facilitating role in the evolvement of the current National Policy on OER, making Nigeria one of the only two African countries to have an OER Policy.
In his remarks, the Vice-President, Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Dr. Venkataraman Balaji said the COL was a member-country driven organization as well as an inter-governmental organization which Nigeria had been a member since its inception. He said, Nigeria had remained a member of the permanent set up of COL comprising six permanent members, and had been both a great contributor to COL as well as a recipient of many partnership and services from COL.
He mentioned that the relationship had been working in both ways; with COL’s contribution to Nigerian consisting of:  advocacy for Open learning, advocacy for distance learning and advocacy for online learning. He said that COL had been working with NUC, in particular, to promote policies that benefit open learning, offer more open education resources and offer improved faculty capacity to work with technology in learning.
Speaking via Zoom, Professor Jane-Frances Agbu said that OER helped to advance knowledge by opening up communication and had democratized knowledge, reduce cost, improve quality, promote life-long learning and share indigenous knowledge. She noted that OER was encouraged to build capacity, develop gender sensitive materials, and promote collaboration and partnership.
She said that the policies of OER include: teaching and learning, capacity building, material development, quality assurance, infrastructure and connectivity, implementation strategy and institutional arrangement. She further explained that OER was always embedded in other policies and could be used in different languages as research was important to discovering new trends.
In a technical presentation, lecturer with the University of Ibadan, Professor Francis Egbokhare, laid more emphasis on accessibility and inclusiveness for people with disability. He said that out of, 195 million Nigerians,  29 million have one disability or the other, while 7.5 million Children were living with disability and the institution does not have facilities to cater for people in that category. He said that people with disability does not have access to information; inadequate learning aids, limited career opportunities and negative attitude among teachers and peers.
He, however, gave kudos to the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), as according to him, statistics from JAMB admission indicated that the Board really catered for people with disabilities.
Other goodwill messages were delivered by the representatives of agencies including the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund), Nigerian Teachers Institute (NTI), National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) and National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
In a vote of thanks, Deputy Director, Open Distance and e-Learning, NUC, Hajia Hadiza Ramallan thanked the DES for the successful coordination of the programme, the COL representative from Vancouver Canada, Vice Chancellors that were present and Professor Olugbemiro Jegede for the brief historical background on OER.
The High-level meeting witnessed a hands-on skill delivery on the use of the OER for Directors of Information Technology (DICTs), Directors of Academic Planning (DAPs) and Librarians of Nigerian Universities.
A draft communiqué was expected at the end of the two-day event on ways and how to mainstream OER in HEIs in Nigeria.