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Utomi to FG: ‘Focus on education, healthcare’

By Wahab Akanji, Abuja
Founding Senior Faculty, Pan-African University’s Lagos Business School (LBS), Professor Pat Utomi has urged the Federal Government to pay more attention to education and healthcare.
Utomi, who is a professor of Social and Political Economy, gave the advice in his pre-convocation lecture of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) on Friday in Abuja.
The title of the lecture is “Political Economy of Education: Issues and Challenges of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in Nigeria’’.
According to him, once education and healthcare is fixed, every other aspect such as economy, infrastructure and security will improve.
“Given the process of education, modern development planners have often suggested that the social sectors of education and healthcare define the primary focus of government in being the key anchor of the development process.
“The key to stopping all these killings in the country is education; we can create a scenario where non state actors will champion infrastructural development. It takes educated people to create the political economy that will lead to development,’’ he said.
Utomi tasked NOUN to develop a teaching method that would be in tandem with modern technology and suitable to educational needs of Nigerians especially those in remote areas.
He said that the number of people that needed to be educated in Nigeria and the ratio of universities underscored the imperative of ODL.
The don said that if people that passed through conventional universities were faced with the challenge of employability, NOUN should ask itself questions on its method of delivery.
“We will find that in some models of Mass Open Online Courses (MOOCS), there is enough interactiveness across cultures that can indeed provide more opportunities to build character and share experience that one can find in a university classroom. It is such knowledge that provides hope for distance learning.
“The great benefit of student life; the personal growth of living on campus can today be significantly provided for in online interaction,’’ he said.
Utomi added that ODL was critical to broadening access and growing the very important human capital factor in how man makes progress in today’s world.
Speaking, Prof. Ishaq Oloyode, Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), said that it was wrong to assume that NOUN was an online platform.
Oloyode, who was the Chairman of the occasion, said that the concept of NOUN as ODL was for access and equity.
According to him, the output of NOUN is standardised and regularised by the National Universities Commission (NUC).
Oloyode called on Council for Legal Education (CLE), National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and other government agencies to recognise NOUN products as the institution was also a creation of law.
In his remark, Prof. Abdalla Adamu, the Vice-Chancellor, NOUN, said that the institution was the biggest and best ODL outfit in West Africa.
He said that any institution that rejected NOUN products for post graduate studies would be sanctioned by NUC.
Adamu said that no fewer than 5,975 students would participate in the forthcoming convocation.

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