NOUN occupies strategic place in Africa – ACDE President

The President of the African Council for Distance Education (ACDE) and Vice-Chancellor of the Open University of Sudan, Professor Abdelraouf Ahmed Abbas, has called on the management of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) to render the university’s vast experience in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) to similar institutions on the continent for the development of the education.

The ACDE president stated this on Tuesday during his visit to the headquarters of NOUN in Abuja, where he underscored the role and critical importance of the university to the council and other ODL institutions in Africa.

Abbas, accompanied by the Secretary, Academic Affairs of Open University of Sudan, Professor Mohammed Abo Imam, said his visit to the headquarters of NOUN was the first in his capacity as the council’s president.

“This is my first visit abroad since my election as ACDE president. That says a lot about the NOUN importance to the ACDE. I think the visit is a bit late, but it is better late than never,” he said.

The OUS vice-chancellor, who is visiting Nigeria for the first time, solicited the support of NOUN in advancing the course of the council, especially in view of its spread and student size, which places it amongst the top ODL institutions in Africa.

He asked the Vice-Chancellor of NOUN, Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu, to lead the pack in the effort to reposition the council so as to ensure a robust collaboration and exchange of study materials and students between the sister universities on the continent.

The president also requested NOUN to allow its staff, Professor Rotimi Ogidan, who is the Executive Secretary of ACDE based at the headquarters of the council in Kenya, to see off his tenure in 2019 which, he said, is another pointer to NOUN’s critical importance to the council and ODL in Africa.

While turning to his university, Abbas said since his appointment as the OUS vice-chancellor, a number of transformations have taken place in the university, and expect to start an electronic examination soon, which NOUN has for years embedded in its examination process.

He thanked the university for the warm welcome and reception and underlined the long-standing existing relationship between Sudan and Nigeria not only in the field of education but also in other areas of life.

On his part, Professor Adamu welcomed the visiting president to the NOUN headquarters and assured him of the full support towards the sustenance of the council’s activity.

Adamu, who is also the First Vice-President of the council, acknowledged that heading the continental body like the ACDE was tasking, but urged the president to focus more on tackling the challenges facing the council and ODL institutions in Africa.

He particularly mentioned areas that need urgent attention of the council, which include the attitude towards ACDE by member bodies, as well as the need for a rotational but a tenured system in occupying the executive secretary’s position, which NOUN has been holding for years.

Adamu also solicited for the creation of a central fund apart from the annual dues from member institutions, from which the council’s executive secretary and other staff could be paid their salaries.

He said in Nigeria, the status of ODL is rising fast, with young Nigerians even outnumbering the more mature ones in enrollment into the university.

As such, he called on ACDE to boost partnership amongst the sister universities in areas of students exchange, study materials and the development of a common template of ODL in Africa, rather than relying on the European system.

He said NOUN has agreed to allow its staff, Professor Ogidan, to finish his tenure as executive secretary of the ACDE despite the financial burden, even as he also requested the council to assist in the enrollment of people in the IDPs camps from across the country.