NOUN: The Cornerstone Of Education And Leadership

NOUN: The Cornerstone Of Education And Leadership

It seems that as Nigerians we are always

after seeking world class infrastructure

without the desire to make world class

inputs. Nothing echoed this antithetical

desire as much as this week’s petition –

supposedly signed by students – calling

for the sack of the Vice Chancellor of the

National Open University of Nigeria

(NOUN) Professor Vincent Tenebe and

other top management of the institution.

One has to say supposedly signed by

students because the expectation is that

genuine students should understand what

the issues are and how their interplay

affects the running of the system.

A statement signed by the Congress of

NOUN Students accused the management

of not responding to their claim that the

institution has become a “den of endemic

corruption”. Maybe one will also offer no

response upon the realisation that the

entity being described has no relationship

with where one presides over. But again,

the management should for the sake of

reducing ignorance, educate the student

leaders and perhaps their sponsors about

the reality of the quality of education

that NOUN is delivering despite the

limited financing available to it. This

explanation would be useful for several


First, there is that copycat tendency in

some people. If could just be that the

Congress of NOUN Students is out to

replicate its own version of the

#feesmustfall protest that recently

crippled several South African

universities over astronomical rise in

school fees. From the Nigerians

perspective, a simplistic view would be to

conclude that #feesmustfall protest 10 –

15% hike in school fees for the 2016

academic year but the larger picture is to

appreciate that the hike means an

average of N700,000.00 for each student.

Should the NOUN students be looking at

replicating the protest going by their

recent moves, it is best they also

compare their overall fees with what

obtains not just in South Africa but in

other countries.

The second reason the management has to

consider is the mere fact that the

leadership of NOUN, since inception, has

been superlative in the discharge of its

duties. NOUN moved from being a concept,

whose practicality and implementation

was earlier doubted, to becoming a

reliable institution. It even caught the

attention of former President Olusegun

Obasanjo, who became a proud student,

finished his degree and remained an

ambassador of distance learning in

Africa. The management has been able to

place the institution among Nigeria’s top

25 universities. It has also secured

Senate’s approval for its graduates to

take part in the National Youth Service

Corps (NYSC) programme.

These are achievements the management

of NOUN, under Professor Tenebe has to

celebrate more than it currently does so

that Nigerians and their prospective

students can appreciate the efforts they

are making to provide quality manpower

for the nation.

Furthermore, the university should create

awareness on the relationship between

the fees it charges and the quality it

turns out. People often desire free

education. The reality however is that

education is never free. Someone or some

entity is paying for or subsidizing

education whenever students are able to

get it for free. Another angle to this is

that people should have realised by now

that the word “cheap” and “quality”

should not occur in the same sentence

when they describe education. What the

Congress of NOUN Students want, going

by their statement and petition, is to

either have “cheap” or “free” education.

It is interesting to note that they made

no reference to the quality of what they

are getting out of distance learning,

which affords many of them the

opportunity to combine career growth

with education. One of the things the

Congress of NOUN Students is not

comfortable as indicated in their

statement is the increase in the fees

charged for research projects. Perhaps, a

starting point would have been for the

leaders of this congress to take a few

minutes to do a Google search with the

phrase “project research fees” or

“research project fees” and then take a

further few minutes to skim over the

search results.

They would then find that it is not a

trend that is only associated with NOUN –

other Nigerian universities charge the

fee. If these students have the energy

and patience to click on the links from

the search query, they will further

discover that project research fee

averages N70,000.00 at institutions that

charge them. A suggestion for these

students would thus be that they should

hold NOUN management accountable to

ensure they get quality supervision for

their projects upon the payment of the

prescribed fees. Also, while at it, they

should actively explore the possibility of

getting businesses and companies

interested in funding their projects by

working on viable research problems that

have industry applications. On the issue

of course materials, which the students

said they do not get on time, a workable

suggestion is for the student body to

work with management to have all

materials digitized and distributed

through the institution’s portal or via

mobile apps, since the era of hardcopy

study materials has all but fizzled out


Enterprising students should be happy to

take up the creation of such platforms as

a challenge. On its part, the Professor

Tenebe led management of NOUN must

realise at this point that succumbing to

erroneous demands from students is not

an option here. If the management

succumbs once then it will never stop

giving in until the progress it has made

in recent years becomes eroded. Yes, the

students have threatened “peaceful

protests” if the management of the

school is not fired by President

Muhammadu Buhari but the threat should

not derail the school from delivering on

its mandate. It should also not force the

school to abandon the trajectory that has

seen its profile rise to be the first choice

for those who desire tertiary education

through distance learning. NOUN has

proven to be the cornerstone of education

and leadership.

This progress must not be reversed on

account of a few students’ leaders who

want the universe to run according to

their own whims. NOUN is not an

alternative to university education and

not a certificate factory where lazybones

go to buy titles and certificates. Rather

it is a pathway to higher learning.

Students who are not ready to learn with

the world class and highly sophisticated

technology must opt for other vocation

like pottery making, carpentry, tailoring

and other skill acquisition ventures and

not resort to this poor attempt at

blackmail. It is obvious that the spread

of the University and accreditation of

courses carried out by the National

Universities Commission (NUC) under this

management team are clear

understanding that these are clear cut

academicians that mean well for our

educational system.