Integrating Technical/Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Open and Distance Learning (ODL): a Strategy for Delivering Skills Training to the Doorstep of Nigerians

Idris, Amina
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Nigeria is a country with a population of more than 140 million people, and a total land area of about 923,768sq. Km. As a developing country, and indeed, as other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria continues to grapple with the challenges of national development. These challenges include bringing about a steady economic growth made possible by improvements in key strategic areas of national life such as adequate food security, affordable housing, employment opportunities, comprehensive healthcare delivery and, of course, universal educational opportunities. Education, in all its ramifications - universal basic/post basic education, TVET, tertiary education level, ODL, etc, occupies a major place in the achievement of national developmental goals. The Nigerian National Policy on Education expresses awareness of the fact that “education is the most important instrument of change in any society” and stresses also that “any fundamental change in the intellectual and social outlook of any society has to be preceded by an educational revolution” (Blue print on National Open and Distance Learning Programmes). The cardinal goal of this educational policy is to address the quest or the spread of quality education. // The dynamics of globalization, plus the introduction of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have resulted in a tidal wave of information that has, in many cases, overwhelmed many countries around the world. This has resulted in radical changes in the educational needs of individuals and society at large; a phenomenon that is reflected in the emerging need for additional specialization in learning. Because the world of work is more complex and fluid, newer approaches to working and learning are in demand. More than ever, educational institutions are required to imbue their students with functional lifelong learning skills they need to survive and meet the challenges and changes wrought by the twenty-first century. // In other words, the evolution of education from the traditional school-based, brick-and-mortar type to the current systems based on information and communication technologies and distance learning, dictates that the TVET sector should also adapt its processes in the expansion of opportunities to these forms of education. This adaptation to newer models of providing educational access is sometimes necessitated by lack of adequate facilities to meet up with the demands of a rising population by government; and at other times, it is a reflection of a peculiar social condition in which potential beneficiaries of educational opportunities are themselves not ready or willing to pursue full-time studies due to their economic or family commitments. It is therefore in appreciation of these factors that most governments have continued to explore the alternative platform of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) as a complement to the goal of providing opportunities for education to the citizenry at all levels. // The term Open and Distance Learning aims to include greater dimensions of openness and flexibility, whether in terms of access, curricula or other elements of structure. The ODL mode offers structured learning in which the instructor and students are separated by time and space, only making use of instructional materials such as print materials, audio and video cassettes, CD ROMs, television and radio broadcasts as well as multimedia components such as computer and satellite transmissions (Peat and Holland, 2002). On the other hand, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) encompasses programmes that provide participants with skills, knowledge and aptitudes that enable them to engage in productive work, adapt to rapidly changing labour markets and economies, and participate as responsible citizens in their societies. Such programmes may include skill levels ranging from functional/workplace literacy programmes to more advance technical/vocational skills; delivery within formal institutional and workplace context; and provision for both the unemployed and the employed learners. // The rationale for TVET and ODL integration therefore is to open opportunity for learners to study regardless of geographic, socio-economic or other related constraints.

Technical/Vocational Education and Training (TVET),Open and Distance Learning (ODL),Skills Development