Open and Distance Learning: A Veritable Tool For Enhancing Gender Equality in Higher Education

Nnaka, Chibuogwu V
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Several studies and available evidence have revealed that women in Nigeria have been denied access to education due to sociocultural practices and religious beliefs. Women are therefore grossly disadvantaged in education especially in higher education. The advent of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) has provided wider access to higher education for all including women through the open and distance learning (ODL) mode. The University has been recording steady increase in enrollment and presently has a population of over one hundred and thirty-two thousand (132,000)students. Many women who could not attend conventional universities are now enrolled in NOUN higher education programmes. This study sought to determine the socioeconomic and personal factors that influenced the enrollment of women into NOUN higher education programmes. It also sought to find out if there are any constraints facing the women enrolled in NOUN higher education programmes. A 20-item questionnaire was developed for the study. The face and content validity of the questionnaire was determined by experts in ODL. A pilot test was used to establish the reliability of the questionnaire. A reliability coefficient of 0.81 was obtained. Three research questions were used for the study. Five hundred women enrolled in NOUN higher education programmes were drawn from five randomly selected study centres in Nigeria using the random sampling technique. Data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics. The findings revealed that time flexibility in ODL and the need to acquire higher qualifications for promotion and elimination of gender inequalities were the major factors that influenced the women to enroll in NOUN higher education programmes. Inadequate technological skills were also identified as the greatest constraint faced by the women. Recommendations were made for equipping women with the necessary technological skills needed for ODL and also for enhancing women’s access and enrollment into higher education programmes of NOUN. // Paper ID: 281

Women and Girls' Education,Gender,Higher Education,Open and Distance Learning (ODL)