It is interesting to note that the democratisation of education is recommended and encouraged by UNESCO and the other international organisations to fight against discrimination and illiteracy. It motivates the spread of compulsory primary and secondary education. It also encourages compensatory measures in the field of special education, education of migrants, exercising the rights to the education of minorities, adult education…
Recently, I participated in a virtual thematic group meeting on the Democratisation of Higher Education in Nigeria through Open Access to celebrate the International Open Science Week.
The session was co-hosted by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and the Training Centre in Communication (TCC Africa).
While TETFUND provides focused and transformative intervention in public tertiary Institutions in Nigeria through funding and effective project management, the TCC Africa provides capacity support in improving researchers’ output and visibility through training in scholarly and science communication.
In the meeting, Digital Science facilitated discussions on the state of investment in open access in higher education and the opportunities of support in the provision of open science tool and dimensions to help increase the research visibility and quality of outputs in Nigeria.
Democratisation as one of the keywords of the programme made me ponder for a while on how it could be related to education. Democratisation is originally a term, which is commonly used term in the political science lexicon. It simply implies embedding democracy to its core in a society.
On the other hand, democratisation entails participation, equality, equity, justice and regard for the rule of law. In a nutshell, I assumed that the democratisation of education would simply refer to equal and equitable acess of all citizens of a particular society to education, regardless of their social status, religion, ethnicity or tribe.
Shedding light on the topic, the Coordinator of TETFund’s Research and Development Standing Committee (RDSC), Dr Mustapha Popoola, called for the democratisation of tertiary education in Nigeria. According to him, open access would not only democratise higher education but also expand its scientific spaces in the country. He said Open Educational Resources (OER) are educational resources that are freely available, such as lesson plans, activities, media, and support materials.
Open access, open data and open education form a broad open agenda that is essential to accelerating the way students discover knowledge and unleash their potentials to solve big problems and make discoveries.
Open access materials such as open access journal articles, open access textbooks and other scientific documents can support OER lesson plans.
In other words, educators and students can take advantage of an open approach to create personalised education programmes, using the latest relevant information to improve learning outcomes and make access to quality education more accessible, fair and affordable.
The fact that Nigeria’s educational system has some challenges, including under-funding, poor infrastructure, inadequate classrooms and teaching aids in undeniable. Yet, there are investors that are willing to support and provide some of the requirements to address the gap in that sector.
Meanwhile, research investors often demand that the results of their funding be made available openly. These investors, ranging from foundations and governments to universities around the world, all place great importance on leveraging their funding for results. With the open agenda, research funders can quickly and efficiently maximise their return on investment and achieve their goals.
It is interesting to note that the democratisation of education is recommended and encouraged by UNESCO and the other international organisations to fight against discrimination and illiteracy. It motivates the spread of compulsory primary and secondary education. It also encourages compensatory measures in the field of special education, education of migrants, exercising the rights to the education of minorities, adult education and the realisation of the permanent education.
The most important benefit of the democratisation of education is student ownership of their education, which could encourage higher attendance rates, greater participation in educational activities, higher student achievements and increased intrinsic motivation.
Digital education, often referred to as Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) or e-Learning, can also play greater roles in the democratisation of education. Exploring the use of digital technologies gives educators the opportunity to design engaging learning opportunities in the courses they teach, and these can take the form of blended or fully online courses and programmes that are quite easily accessible and affordable.
The success of any nation greatly depends on the quality and effectiveness of her educational sector.
An educational attainment is an instrument for effecting national growth and development for a sustainable economy. It is also the vehicle for improving the quality of life of individuals, as well as the society’s growth and development.
From the foregoing, it is clear that education as a veritable tool for total emancipation and development is very essential for improving the quality of life of individuals in a society and that of the society itself. Hence, there is the need to make education equally accessible to all without any form of discrimination. However, in making education accessible to all, care should be taken so that quality is not compromised.
Government at all levels should therefore provide adequate funding for worthwhile educational programmes through various means including the innovative use of digital tools and technologies during teaching and learning.
Rahma Olamide Oladosu writes from Abuja and can be reached through: email@example.com.
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