Born-Before-Computer And Graft-Oriented Policies & Injustices Against National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN And Other Public Institutions In Nigeria: Enough Is Enough! Part One
The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) believes strongly that injustice and graft are the greatest threats facing the promotion, advancement, preservation, protection and enforcement of Human Rights in Nigeria or any part thereof. The effects of injustice and graft breed insecurity, which in turn, give birth to general underdevelopment in Nigeria and one of the consequences of underdevelopment in Nigeria is the entrenched culture of born-before-computer among the country’s public policy makers and the managers of its education management and regulatory institutions.
The culture of born-before-computer is understood as pride and egoistic mentality of Nigeria’s policy makers and implementers to stick to old brigade approach and refusal to move in tandem with current social realities such as global village culture or ICT revolution. On the other hand, the effects of graft or corruption on public office holders including public education regulators and managers in Nigeria are alarmingly riotous and mentally terminal; which is why it is immortally said that corruption or graft kills entrepreneurship; destroys values; ruins economy and deadens mental faculties of their possessors. It is also said immortally that a corrupt judge is worst than a malevolent mad man running amok with a sharp dagger in a crowded market place and that when a professor is corrupt, he or she becomes a professorial moron and moves from professorial reasoning and creativity to professorial quackery all the time.
The existing policy and graft oriented injustices against some public establishments in Nigeria is basketful. Two of the victims gravely affected are the National Open University of Nigeria or NOUN and the Nigerian Traffic Warden Service (TWS) under the age-long enslavement of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). While NOUN and its law faculty is a victim of institutional graft and policy injustice powered by crudity and Hobbesian jurisprudence; the TWS is a victim of policing tyranny and enslavement.
For the records, the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) is one of the existing federal universities in Nigeria, established by the National Assembly in 1983 through an Act. Originally established as a correspondence or part-time university and modelled after the UK Open University (one of the ten best universities in the world; also the university with largest student population in the world); NOUN, likewise the UK Open University, was resuscitated and upgraded, offering a mixture of fulltime and distance learning programs using advanced ICT and well established electronic and manual libraries. NOUN’s programs or courses or degrees are approved and regularly supervised by the National Universities Commission (NUC).
NOUN was resuscitated in 2004 by the then Presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo to provide for close and distance learning education for all Nigerians particularly those in working class category. It is a major beneficiary of ICT powered mixture of face-to-face (student-teacher or facilitator) tertiary education and distance learning education programs. NOUN also uses dual examination methods of POP or Pen and Paper and e-exams or NOUN’s ICT powered and controlled computer examination. The use of POP is to expose and empower its students on manual writing skills and techniques while its e-exams are to develop its students in the use and knowledge of computer and its applications. The e-exams are mandatory for its 100-200 Level students while its POP is mandatory for its 300-400-500 Level students.
There is uniformed pre exams quiz called TMAs or tutor marked assignments, which constitute 30% of the total marks. The TMAs are purely computer and internet based done off classroom and composed of 80 objective questions per course material under TMA1, TMA2, TMA3 and TMA4; meaning that if a student registers for eight courses in a semester exam, he or she must attempt a total of 640 objective questions within a stipulated time frame and answers to TMAs are automatically or electronically affixed and graded; likewise the e-exams. In e-exams, students are automatically graded once they are done with 150 questions and click on the computer button: submit. The duration for the e-exams is strictly timed and regulated by computers under NOUN exams invigilators. This means that if a student is lazy and fails to study hard to be able to read and comprehend all his or her course materials cover to cover, he or she has automatically failed his or her exams and earned a license to a second missionary journey. Many tertiary institutions in Nigeria have borrowed this exams method from NOUN till date.
NOUN also has flexibility policy under its work and learn slogan. This has nothing to do with part-time; rather it offers the students opportunities to combine their work with education at NOUN at their own pace. It further means that a student of NOUN doing a four- year program can graduate at the completion of his or her course-loads and project in four years after mandatorily passing all the courses. A post graduate student can complete his or her study in one year, yet another can spend three years or more. Another student running a four-year program can as well graduate in seven years pending when his or her course-loads are completed and mandatorily passed. Whether a student of NOUN spends seven years or more in a four-year program, he or she must pay all compulsory fees every semester. Every kobo paid at NOUN is electronically captured and students can save money into their portals and use it for other semesters. NOUN certificates are issued at source at the convocation arenas provided the recipient’s academic records including all his or her program courses and project are certified or cleared by the University.
Course materials of NOUN are strictly written by NOUN in simplest grammars so as to enable distance students to read, understand, study and comprehend. All the examinable courses of NOUN are manually and electronically accessible. Its electronic or soft copies are down-loadable from NOUN’s e-portal. The University has the best e-library in Nigeria and borrows a lot from researches of other Open Universities such as the National Open University of UK or the UK Open University. It is still on record that the UK Open University has the largest university-student population in the world with over 180,000 and it is also one of the world’s top universities in the world universities ranking. There are at least 60 accredited Open Universities around the world including Open Universities of Hong Kong, Australia, China, Ghana, Israel, South Korea, Taiwan, South Africa, Netherlands, Spain, Sudan, Libya, Tanzania, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Philippines.
Further, at the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN, zero room is provided for graft and immorality such as sorting, inflation of course-marks, exams cheating or malpractice, cultism, vindictiveness, sexual commodity and harassment and malicious degrading and failing of students by lecturers or facilitators. A student at NOUN is virtually on his or her own as well as architect of his or her own success or failure. NOUN students are strictly advised and tutored on the type of environment conducive to study and encouraged to read and study after midnight and under other noise-free environments. Computer, use of English and study skills courses are compulsory for all undergraduate and post graduate students of NOUN.
NOUN does not offer courses not accredited by the NUC or run programs not approved by same. The least facilitator or lecturer at NOUN is a master’s degree holder and NOUN facilitators (lecturers) manning their tutorial classes in its 37 Study Centers across Nigeria are hired from leading conventional universities and thoroughly blended on the methodologies of the University. Two most striking things about NOUN are zero culture of graft and meritorious academic pursuit and environment.
An undergraduate student of Criminology & Security Studies at NOUN, for instance, must cover and pass at least 53-55 courses including his or her project before he can be graduated. To graduate with LLB degree at NOUN from its faculty of law, a student must study, complete and pass at least 65 courses in addition to his or her project. A master’s degree student of Peace & Conflict Studies at NOUN, for instance, must pass at least 15 courses excluding thesis before he or she can be graduated.
But in conventional universities in Nigeria, only 60 courses or less are required to become a graduate of law, while only six of them are required to become a holder of Master of Laws in areas such as International Human Rights, Arbitration & Family Law. At NOUN, to pass course material to C, B or A grade, a student must read and study the course material cover to cover for at least three times: general reading, TMA reading and revision for exams. This means that a student of NOUN must have read or covered at least 80% of each of his or her course material before the exams. It is suicidal to register and take an unread course material at NOUN exams.
But in conventional universities, course materials are highly unregulated and exposed to quackery and serial extortion. Students with five carry-overs at conventional universities, for instance, can easily be upgraded and credited with better or best grades as case may be provided they can trade off enough cash or sex commodity for such crooked grades. At NOUN, any student with such carry-overs is instantly in hot soup and left with two options of either dropping out of NOUN or retaking the entire exams. NOUN course materials must be read and understood by students page to page to be able to write and pass them in the exams as well as to do and pass their attached Tutor Marked Assignments (TMAs) and impart the knowledge and exposure originally intended.
But at conventional universities, the ability of students to patronize (buy) their lecturers’ junks or handouts or plagiarized notes, automatically earns them 25% of the total marks for each of the exam courses. Expo is also common in conventional universities in Nigeria whereby students are told areas to concentrate in their course materials for their exams. As a result, the students’ ability to read and study their course materials widely or cover to cover is roundly diminished or lost. The end-result is production of half-baked graduates flooding the streets of Nigeria and its unemployment sector.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)
Barr Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program