By Professor Jane-Frances Agbu
Adviser: Higher Education, COL
The Paris OER Declaration on Open Education Resources and its recommendation have provided enabling statements and action items for robust and resilient practices in the use of OER. The Commonwealth of Learning (COL), an acknowledged leader in OER, while remaining steadfast in its vision of being a foremost global agency that promotes learning for sustainable development, and in particular SDG4, continues to support evidence-based OER projects in member countries of the Commonwealth, both at national and institutional levels.
The ongoing project on mainstreaming OER in higher education institutions in Nigeria is one case of many. From a concrete engagement of Nigerian stakeholders arising from the Regional Consultative meeting for Africa on OER, an OER policy document for higher education in Nigeria was actualised and subsequently approved for implementation during the ministerial session of the 63rd National Council on Education (NCE), Nigeria, in late 2018.
Surging on, and with a focus on the long-term impact, COL facilitated the regrouping of stakeholders in Nigeria, in collaboration with the National Universities Commission (NUC), for stocktaking in 2022. This two-day stakeholders’ meeting on mainstreaming OER in higher education in Nigeria attracted over 140 participants, giving rise to a clear recommendation for OER implementation at the institutional levels. In response, COL is currently supporting eight higher education institutions in Nigeria towards OER awareness, policy development and course enhancement with OER.
For continuous professional development, COL, in partnership with the National Open University of Nigeria, offered a MOOC on OER for Online Learning between 2021 – 2022, with over 7,000 learners enrolled by its third iteration.
To ensure enhanced accessibility to OER produced by the higher education institutions in Nigeria, COL, in collaboration with the National Universities Commission, facilitated the development of a National OER Repository with extensive customisation to meet the specific requirements and desired functionalities, including a customised metadata schema. This centralised OER platform for Nigerian universities possesses the required flexibility that permits nodal officers from each university to actively contribute to its content.
To ensure this objective, COL facilitated a one-day meeting with the nodal officers in May 2023 aimed at enhancing knowledge of the features, functionalities and administrative capabilities of the OER repository. The next steps entail the provision of credentials to the nodal officers to facilitate access to the platform, assist universities in establishing administrative workflow within the platform and following up and supporting university officers until they feel comfortable and proficient in using the platform.
COL’s close rapport with partners, along with effective and continuous follow-up and capacity-building support, were critical success factors in taking the idea from implementation to outcome. COL as an enabler, a capacity builder and a catalyst is accelerating robust and resilient systems of education and training, as well as developing innovative models for enhanced impact.
And for Nigeria, this journey continues.