THE Federal Government has declared that open and distance learning remains the future of education in Nigeria in view of the high number of those seeking university education annually.

Minister of Education, Professor Tahir Mamman, SAN, who said this charged the National Universities Commission (NUC) and other regulatory agencies to come up with quality assurance mechanisms to strengthen open universities in the country.

Mamman spoke in Abuja at the unveiling and maiden matriculation ceremony of Al-Muhibbah Open University, Abuja, where he also urged the management of the Open University to offer programmes that are relevant to the local communities.

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At the event, 105 students across three faculties and 14 programmes were matriculated.

The Minister said owing to the large pool of candidates searching for university education, there was a need to open up the system for private education to meet the educational yearnings of the youths.

Mamman said: “Open distance learning education is a relatively new frontier for us and that is the direction our tertiary education is moving.

“I know as a fact, the government ownership of open university has risen to over 700,000 students, the largest in Africa and the pool of young men and women who are interested in education is unsearchable and very large. So, certainly the government cannot meet these demands.

“So it is appropriate that we open the system to the private sector who are really committed to the provision of this level of education.”

He said: “What we have at the moment is largely focused on conventional institutions, as we strengthen this level of university education, the public must have the assurance that they deliver the quality programmes which they give approval for.

“Secondly, one of the focus areas of this government are qualifications that are relevant to our local community, they must be relevant while having the same quality that will make you competitive in the international arena.

“How do you become relevant within the local frontier? It is by ensuring that you have programmes that embed in them skills which will make them readily employable or better still employers of Nigerians.

“This government is set and already working with corporate skill sets of the Nigerian education sector right from primary schools to the university because the level we are now is such that we need more people with skills who will provide solutions to Nigerian problems.”

While congratulating the newly admitted students, Mamman charged them to adhere to the university’s regulations and contribute responsibly to the institution.

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