Higher education for all in need through the National Open University of Nigeria: A paradox in policy practice
Authors: Peter James Kpolovie and Isaac Esezi Obilor
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This investigation adopted Program Theory-Based Evaluation Design in assessing the merit and worth of National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), strictly in line with the institution’s mission statement, goal, and policy of “higher education for all in need”; to ascertain access to, and the degree of equilibrium in the demand and supply of higher education in Nigeria. Results revealed that of the total number of candidates applying for higher education admission in Nigeria, between 2003 and 2012, only 13.12% to 26.52% succeeded into Nigerian Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education; denying 73.48% to 86.88% of candidates who seek access to higher education. It was low access to higher education in the country that necessitated establishment of the NOUN in 1983 to ensure equity and equality of opportunities and wider access to education with a view to mopping up all who need higher education but are left out by the conventional education system. Results further showed that the government’s policy of “higher education for all in need through the NOUN” is merely a paradox in policy practice; because in its present state, NOUN has not and can never cope with the demand for higher education in Nigeria as it only admitted 0.03% to 1.89% of the candidates seeking higher education between 2003 and 2012. It was suggested that improved power supply and internet connectivity, more study centres especially in the rural areas, increased funding of NOUN, and the establishment of a National Open and Distance Education Commission for effective and efficient supervision of NOUN, will make the National Open University of Nigeria the “Higher Education Messiah” that it was intended to be.
Keywords: Higher education for all in need; Program theory-based evaluation design; Paradox in policy practice; Open and Distance Education; Access to higher education; National Open University of Nigeria; Higher education.