A consultant has recommended to government to establish an open distance learning (ODL) college to control and monitor standards in all institutions offering such mode of tertiary education.
National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) assigned the consultant, Denis Khasu, to look at the model for ODL in Malawi.
Presenting his recommendations in Lilongwe yesterday, Khasu said if ODL was to be flexible, cost-effective and learner-centred, there is need for a unified institution to enhance collaboration.
He said: “There is lack of collaboration between institutions offering education through ODL. So, we propose that a college to act as the overseer of all ODL institutions be established in the country to facilitate collaboration and ensure effectiveness in ODL education in the country.”
In response, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) Principal Secretary Ken Ndala said government plans to establish an ODL university and was currently discussing on how best the project can be rolled out.
He said: “At the moment, government through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is conceptualising on having an ODL university to facilitate better delivery of education through ODL. So, this report from the consultant will also guide us on the same.”
Factors obstructing effectiveness of ODL in the country, according to the consultant, include low information and communications technology [ICT] infrastructure and investment, poor perception of ODL and little diversification of instructional materials.
NCHE chief executive officer Ignasio Jimu said the findings of the consultancy will help the council formulate better tools of assessing institutions offering education through ODL.
He said: “The findings from the consultancy will help us come up with better tools of assessing institutions offering education through ODL to ensure that education offered through ODL is not inferior to that of face-to-face mode of teaching.”
The consultancy, which started in April this year, has been carried out with support from Skills Development Project financed by Malawi Government with funding from the World Bank. n