Access to Higher Education for National Development in Nigeria: Distance Education to the Rescue
The paper examined the place of Distance Education (DE) as a method of Adult Education in Nigeria and its contribution to national development. The paper discussed DE practice and challenges in some African countries and related this to the Nigerian situation. The paper further noted the challenge of the national admission body into the regular tertiary institutions with reconciling the ratio of applicants to those admitted. However, DE, which is originally a form of Adult Education, is fast becoming a replacement for regular higher education in its conduct. The implication of this on Adult Education practice in Nigeria is that the changes in the demographics of participants in DE, along with other challenges, affects the essence of Adult Education provision, access and its conduct. The paper analyzed the concept of DE and noted that distance education is currently used to replace, instead of support mainstream education in Nigeria by eroding the more desirable non-formal approach. The paper agrees that DE can be used as a tool, per excellence, for human and national development if practiced in its proper context attracting the target candidates. Several suggestions were proffered for better conduct of DE, including awareness campaigns to attract the right candidates into DE programs as well as better provision of access to regular education for the youth to stem their influx into DE. The discourse has great implications for lifelong learning, access, national development and adult education practice in Nigeria and globally.