Effectiveness of Proficiency Skills Development using Open and Distance Learning System in Nigeria

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF5 Sub-theme: Livelihoods // Technical and vocational education and training is an important aspect of Nigeria’s educational and developmental objectives, however the conventional approach to education is hard pressed to meet this need. Consequently, the open and distance learning system had been introduced to train people in essentially theoretical fields and extended to the vocational and technical fields. 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 areas. These courses are directed at improving the skills, competencies and abilities of participants for enhanced workplace effectiveness, and enable them to recognize and utilize investment opportunities around them for financial empowerment and personal development. This paper reports the outcome of a primary qualitative investigation of the application of distance learning approaches for teaching practical skills and competencies based courses of the Centre. Using structured interviews and focus group discussions with registered learners, instructional facilitators, student counsellors and prospective applicants to these programmes, the study examined the perception of the participants about the effectiveness of the training received for skills oriented programmes at the institution. Opinions of participants about the instructional delivery of the content and learner-friendliness of study materials were recorded. The discussions also focused on the availability, and effectiveness of contact sessions and multimedia course ware. The findings suggest that, in general, skills development through open and distance learning system is practicable, effective and useful. It was also found that whilst there are print materials issued for instructional delivery, the preference of the learners was for intensive face-to-face practical sessions as complements to print materials. Conclusively, it was proposed that the practical/face-to-face components of the courses should be anchored to some existing apprenticeship training institutions/organizations in there areas. This will enable participants to learn as they work and also lower the cost of practicals borne by the institution. // Paper ID 156