Professor Goski Alabi, the President of African Council for Distance Education has called on the government to develop a comprehensive national policy framework for open and distance education.
Prof Alabi noted that a national guiding policy and quality framework would regulate and protect the country’s digital education space for socioeconomic development.
She made the call at a policy dialogue workshop on the Enhancement of Access and Quality Tertiary Education to respond to the new normal through Open, Distance and E-Learning.
The dialogue is in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC), and Laweh Open University College, supported by the Commonwealth of Learning.
The development of the policy, she said, would provide the flexibility for people to work and school at the same time and provide opportunities for gender parity.
“The policy will provide a guarantee on issues of connectivity and ICT infrastructure and provide the country with opportunities to enhance access to quality tertiary education,” she said.
Research showed that over 25 per cent of Ghanaian students have access to open and distance education.
She said COVID-19 had made online education essential for all schools, stressing that the citizenry needed to take advantage of the platform and maximised its full potential for national growth.
A speech read on behalf of Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, the Minister of Education, said the Ministry and the Ghana Education Service had launched a distance and online learning programme through Ghana Learning TV and Radio to minimise the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on learning during school closure.
He said the programme was to ensure continuous learning for all learners, stressing that even though many learners lacked access to the internet, the distance learning programme benefitted approximately one million Senior High School learners and 8.2 million Kindergarten to Junior High School learners.
The Minister said the Government established the Centre for National Distance Learning and Open Schooling to reinforce open and distance learning at the tertiary level and make it a reality at the pre-tertiary level.
“The Government is currently establishing the Open University of Ghana to increase access to tertiary education for qualified individuals who for some reasons are not able to enrol at the traditional universities,” he said.
Professor Mohammed Salifu, Director General, GTEC said the National Council for Tertiary Education and the National Accreditation Board had been merged under the new Education Regulatory Bodies Act, 2020 (Act 1023) to form the GTEC.
The Commission, he said among other functions, was to regulate tertiary education to promote efficient and effective administration and accreditation of tertiary education institutions.
He urged the universities to be abreast of the mandates of the Commission to achieve the objectives for efficient and effective educational outcomes.
Madam Veronica Dzeagu, Chief Technical Officer, All Africa Student Union, called for more investment in the development of policies, standards and the requisite infrastructure by governments to enable a scale up of online education.