Michael Abiola Omolewa
A month after federal government’s directive to higher institutions to switch to virtual learning, most of the conventional institutions have not been able to do so. Why do you think this is so?
Let me take it from the historical point of view because the lockdown and lack of access to learning at the conventional level is not new in Nigeria. Before any university was established in the country, and the first was done in 1948, the University of London was already producing graduates of the institution through distance learning.
In other words, there were no universities in Nigeria, yet we were producing degree holders. As far back as June 1927, when a gentleman from Ijebu Ode, called Emmanuel Odukoya Ajayi, took his examinations at the university level. In 1922, he took the London matriculation examination. In 1925, he took the intermediate B.A. (Hons) degree examination and 1927, he took the final degree examination of the University of London and passed, university education was already taking place through virtual learning.
In other words, although Ajayi had no lecturers, because there was no university and had only the inadequate library at Saint Andrew’s College, Oyo, where he was a teacher, he still succeeded in getting university education and thus demonstrated the potential of virtual learning usually done at distance. It is, therefore, possible for people to have university education without the conventional universities.
However, the history of university education shows that conventional universities offer the best form of higher education and the preparation of learners through the collegiate system of sustained and close interaction between the teachers and the learners and among the learners themselves.