EDUCATION

Before Legal Education Council Ruins Open University

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It will be in public interest if the office of the President can direct today an Inter-ministerial Council comprising the Ministers of Justice & Education (to be supported by the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF), office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution to resolve the needless conflict between the Nigerian Council for Legal Education (CLE) and the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) over admission into the Nigerian Law School.
I will presently underline why the suggested inter-ministerial council is of urgent national importance. And because we live in a country where every writer is suspected for writing on any topics, let me state clearly that I am neither a student nor a graduate of the National Open University of Nigeria. I am just sad and angry now about the parlous state of education that does not receive due attention of our leaders at all levels. And so I am fully persuaded that unless governments at all levels pay more attention to education quality through proper funding and massive development of infrastructure to global standards, we will not get out of the crisis that has threatened to make us a failed state.
That is why it is unconscionable that before our very eyes in the 21st century, when globalization forces including innovative technologies daily shape the way managers and leaders run business and governance, some stone-hearted people in Nigerian Council for Legal Education have decreed that Law graduates through Open and Distance Learning education platform should not be allowed into their own peculiar Law school. This is vexatious and the many knowledgeable and influential opinion leaders in the country who know that education is fast getting out of the conventional classrooms should call the Council for Legal Education to order.
Early in the week, news broke that NOUN had suspended admission into Law programme over exclusion from Law school.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University (NOUN) Professor Abdallah Uba Adamu confirmed the suspension while on a congratulatory visit to the new Executive Secretary of the national Universities Commission (NUC) Professor Abubakar Abdul Rasheed. There is some unfortunate curiosity about his suspension. According to the story line, Adamu who was accompanied by members of the University’s Governing Council said the suspension of admission into the (Law) programme was sequel to the advice by the NUC that students should be be stopped from undertaking the course pending the resolution of the inability of its graduates to go to Law School like their counterparts from other conventional universities. There is ‘double wahala’ for Law in Nigeria: Accreditation begins with the NUC and ends with CLE. In this instance, the NUC accreditation is nothing if the CLE can cancel it pronto.

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The grave implications of this development are far reaching. In the first place, the stance of the Nigerian Council for Legal Education (CLE) on the status of Law programme of the institution is capable of eroding confidence in all the courses of the institution. Unless, government that set up NOUN rises up to call CLE to order, it (CLE) will be seen as a heroic body that cares about standard and best practices. It may be suspected that, the National Youth service Corps (NYSC) that has been reluctant in admitting graduates of NOUN into its service scheme must have taken some inspiration from the almighty Legal Education Council. But it is not the case, in this connection. The Legal Education Council members too need innovative thinking at this juncture, lest they give Nigeria a bad name. In other words, if the Council is not reminded that we are in the 21st century, they will destroy legal education that requires dynamism from graduates from different platforms.
The NOUN set up by a law, is a Federal Open and Distance Learning (ODL) institution, the first of its kind in West Africa. It is Nigeria’s largest tertiary institution in terms of student numbers. It was originally established on July 22, 1983 as a springboard for open and distance learning in Nigeria. The Buhari’s military government suspended it on April 25, 1984 without any solid reason. The Obasanjo’s government thought of its benefits and revived it legally in 2001. To his credit, President Obasanjo appointed a qualified Professor of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) to coordinate it. Professor Olugbemiro Jegede was Coordinator until 2003 when he was appointed Vice Chancellor.
Prior to his special assignment in Nigeria, Professor Jegede had served in various capacities in different parts of the world including being the Staff in charge of the M.Ed programme by ODL at the Curtin University of Technology Science and Mathematics Education Centre, Perth, Australia; founding Director, Centre for Research in Distance & Adult Learning, The Open University of Hong Kong; Foundation Head, Research & Evaluation Unit Distance Education Centre, The University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia.
Professor Jegede, who is a chair Professor in both Science Education and Open and Distance Learning, obtained his B.Sc.Ed and M.Ed degrees at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria. He got his Ph.D at the University College of Wales, Cardiff, UK.
It is understood too that today in Nigeria, the NOUN has the best Learning Portal to the extent that students most times get their results on the spot after examination.

What is more, we are not an Island on this score. The Open University, United Kingdom proclaims itself as “the world’s leading provider of flexible, high-quality online degrees…” According to the operators of the largest university in U.K, distance learning or e-learning serves students across the globe with highly respected degree qualifications, and the triple accredited MBA. They have 200, 000 students in 440 courses. The Open University set up in 1969 is regularly rated as one of the best in the UK for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey. Their 440 courses include Medicine & Health, Environmental Studies, Computer Science, Engineering & Technology, Arts, Design & Architecture, Law Applied Sciences & Professions, Agriculture & Forestry. So, what is extraordinary about Law through ODL in Nigeria that the almighty CLE have been adamant about? Lest we forget, how did Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Chief Afe Babalola all great lawyers obtain their Law degrees without the internet then? How did they study Law through correspondence in England?

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Do the unduly conservative big men know that there are thousands of graduates and graduate students from the University of Liverpool, (UK) online programmes in Nigeria? Do they know that the online programme of the Liverpool’s is more rigorous and expensive than the regular programme? The University of Liverpool is a member of the UK’s research-led Russel Group and is in the top 1 per cent of universities worldwide. Its 100 online programmes backed by worldwide accreditation (such as AACSB for management degrees, and BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, for information technology degrees) – offer a highly collaborative and engaging experience for ambitious professionals, building their global knowledge, network and skills for increased professional impact.
The Liverpool University founded in 1881 and authorized in 1903 by Royal Charter to award degrees is today at the forefront of global online higher education, offering s suite of fully online graduate degree programmes delivered by Laureate Online Education under the auspices of LAUREATE International Universities. More than 10,000 people from over 160 countries are studying online and more than 8,000 have graduated from this Liverpool University online model since they began. For the information of those who do not understand what we are saying here, even almost all the Ivy League Universities in the U.S have migrated to the ODL programe one way or the other. In 2014, there was a heated argument about how to join the ODL bandwagon in the prestigious Harvard University’s MBA programme.
The debate was between two of their best Professors at the Harvard Business School, Professor Michael Porter, who did the canonical works, Competitive Strategy and Competitive Advantage and Professor Clayton Christensen, author of the highly reviewed The Innovator’s Dilemma and The Innovator’s Solution. Their dilemma was how should Harvard Business School handle both the threat and the opportunity of online disruption? Porter had argued for evolution, not revolution. Porter believes that he school should modernize around the edges while it preøserves the core. But Christensen who argues for revolution, maintains that it is inevitable and the school should disrupt itself before its competitors do. In the end, Harvard, though conscious of its MBA as a profit centre accepted the Porter-like strategy.
It has built a programme called HBX, conceived as a $1,500 “pre MBA online course to prepare students to speak the language of business”. According to the model, the beauty of the online approach is that it makes money without cannibalizing key profit centres such as MBA and executive education programmes, which bring in a quarter of a billion dollars per year.
What this shows is that Nigerian university administrators and their professors should develop learning models that will make the working class and millions of education-hungry Nigerians to obtain even higher degrees in Nigerian universities instead of resorting to Liverpool, Harvard and The Open University of UK. If the Council for Legal Education is allowed to prevent accreditation for Law programme, how do we have confidence in other programmes of the NOUN and other universities offering distance learning programmes in Nigeria?. No, doubt, there are serious challenges but it is the responsibility of the federal government to deal with them. The starting point of redemption song for the NOUN is for the President to set up an Inter-ministerial body, which should include relevant professional bodies to remove this reproach that the Legal Education Council has slammed on the National Open University of Nigeria that can be well funded and developed to be one of the best ODL institutions in the world.

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Inside Stuff Grammar School Using “Relegated to the Background” and “Night Vigil”.
This school has observed that some users misuse the phrase “relegated to the background” and “night vigil”. Note that it is wrong to add “to the background” to the word “relegated”. Examples: (1) The central role of the sponsor of the event was “relegated to the background”. The correct sentence is: (1) The central role of the sponsor of the event was relegated. The phrase, “to the background” in the sentence is unnecessary (redundant). The place of the phrase is inherent in the original meaning of relegation. So it is for the word “vigil”. It is wrong to say or write that: (1) I will be going for a “night vigil” in my church tomorrow. Note that “vigil” already connotes “night”. Vigil means ‘purposeful watch maintained especially at night, to guard, observe, pray, etc’. (2) The eve of certain major festivals, formerly observed as a night spent in prayer (old RC Church, Church of England). You are going for a “vigil” in your office or church, not “night vigil”.




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