Charity Simon, Abuja
Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwukah, has commended the Commonwealth of Learning (CoL) over its effort in promoting mass literacy, through the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
Professor Anwukah said these in his office when he received President of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Prof. Asha Kanwar, who paid him a courtesy call in Abuja.
He said the Federal Government is determination to meet all its obligations to the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) as soon as the financial situation of the country improved.
Prof. Anwukah said that the Federal Government is actively promoting Open and Distance Learning through the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) and the National Teachers Institute (NTI) as alternative ways of increasing access to higher education.
Professor Anwukah revealed that the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) is currently running 75 Centres across the country with an estimated population of 184,000 active students as at 2015/2016 academic session.
According to the Minister, the country’s conventional public Universities have challenges of low carriage capacity and cannot meet the demands of the ever growing population of Nigerian children seeking admission into tertiary institutions, adding that the NOUN has tremendously reduced the pressure as well as provided opportunities for the working class to study while they work.
The Minister recalled that Nigeria has been a member of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) since 2006 and has been meeting its annual financial contribution to the tune of 750,000 dollars until the current economic downturn. Nigeria also occupies two seats in the COL Board of Governors and the Audit Committee of the Board, Professor Anwukah reiterated.
Prof. Anwukah pointed out the areas of special need of the Ministry such as continuous teacher education and qualified teachers for basic and secondary education with emphasis on technology acquisition which, according to him, “holds the key to the success of any country’s industrial sector”.
The Minister therefore charged the COL to extend more of its services to Nigerian to enable her citizen’s benefit from its distance learning programmes.
While speaking, Professor Asha Kanwar expressed gratitude to Nigeria for its contributions to the success of the COL as, according to her, the organization is funded by voluntary bodies and public spirited institutions, prominent amongst which is Nigeria.
Prof. Kanwar noted that COL lays more emphasis on quality education access and equity which she explained is aimed at breaking the circle of poverty, a debilitating phenomenon in the third world.
The President of the Commonwealth of Learning also praised the NOUN and NTI for their laudable efforts of increasing access to education in Nigeria describing the National Open University of Nigeria as the biggest distance learning institution in the world.