Assessment of the Contribution of Open and Distance Learning to Human Capacity Development: NOUN Products as Case Example

Dorothy Ofoha

Abstract


The importance of higher education and its link to socio-economic development has long been
established. However, that of open and distance learning (ODL) as an emerging education
delivery system in Nigeria has not been meaningfully investigated. Therefore this study was
conducted to evaluate the contribution of ODL in the development of human capacity, a key
factor that engenders socio-economic development in any society, using graduates of the
National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) as case study, particularly given the fact that
NOUN has produced two sets of bachelor degree graduates many of whom had studied while
working. Specifically, the study examined the extent to which NOUN graduates had benefited
from the ODL programme and how well it has impacted their lives in terms of job performance,
income, self-image, and interpersonal relations. Targeting the 2012 cohorts, through purposive
sampling technique, 90 graduates participated in the study including heads of organizations
where they were employed (herein called employers). Using the qualitative research approach,
data were collected through interview schedules and were analyzed thematically and presented
in the narrative form. Findings revealed that the majority of NOUN graduates reported
having acquired skills and competences which were absent before they enrolled with NOUN
and that this had impacted their lives in many positive ways. Interviews with employers yielded
positive comments in many of the questions asked. A large proportion of employers expressed
satisfaction with quality of NOUN graduates and graduates’ job performance. Following the
findings, it is concluded that ODL contributes to a large extent in building human capacity.
Therefore, the general public should do well to take advantage of ODL programmes. This will
ensure that greater number of citizens have expanded access to quality higher education,
consequently, helping to achieve socio-economic development both to the individuals, the
nation, and the society at large.

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