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Distance learning: Building a CV without losing your job

By Vision Reporter

Added 3rd June 2007 03:00 AM

DISTANCE learning is an unconventional kind of education, which requires one to study on his or her own, outside the classroom. The programme is flexible, allowing busy people to advance their careers.

DISTANCE learning is an unconventional kind of education, which requires one to study on his or her own, outside the classroom. The programme is flexible, allowing busy people to advance their careers.

By Tony Barigye

DISTANCE learning is an unconventional kind of education, which requires one to study on his or her own, outside the classroom. The programme is flexible, allowing busy people to advance their careers.

Under this programme, the lecturer or teacher is involved after students have spent sometime studying on their own.

For example, at Kampala International University, such a student is required to study on his or her own for six months before a lecturer is involved.
Distance learning has become part of the education system in Uganda and this is evident in most of the higher institutions of learning.

The first institution to embrace this kind of learning was Makerere University in 1991. Since then, the university has had tremendous success, with the number of students rising from 310 in 1991, to 2,041 last year.

Other institutions that have the programme are Uganda Martyrs University Nkozi, Uganda Management Institute, Kyambogo University and Kampala International University (KIU), which introduced it in April last year.

Dr. Sumil Novembrieta, the deputy-vice chancellor of the Institute of Continuing and Distance Studies at Kampala International University, recommends the programme to individuals with self-directed lifestyles. She says the programme is broad-based, which allows intercultural engagement across borders.

“The programme encourages globalisation. People of different nationalities get to learn about other cultures,” she says.

Novembrieta say costs of travel, accommodation and other expences are reduced if one takes on the programme.
Dr. Jessica Aguti, the associate director of the Institute of Adult and Continuing Education at Makerere University, says over 8,000 students had graduated under the programme.

Aguti said the programme provides easy access to education.
She says in future, the present education system will not be able to absorb the increasing number of students.

“By 2010, our education system will not be able to absorb the growing numbers of primary leaving pupils. However, with the distance learning programme, some will be catered for.”
However, she says, distance learning has not expanded much due to limited funding.

Before 1873, the programme was unknown until Illinois Wesleyan University in America decided to supplement the traditional classroom courses.

In 1883, 32 professors from major universities, including Harvard, John’s Hopkins, Cornell and the University of Wisconsin met to form the correspondence university. The latter was mostly interested in correspondence courses to supplement the traditional classroom courses.

Elizabeth Badona, the commissioner for higher education says the programme increases education opportunities to the public.
“The programme draws education closer to the people, increasing their opportunities for higher education,” she says.

Magdalene Nasala, a First Year student at Makerere University doing a Bachelor of Education degree (Distance learning), says the programme fits into her schedule.
“With distance learning, you are able to work as you study. You are also given enough time to pay the tuition,” says Nasala, a teacher at St. Paul’s College Mbale.

Grace Aisu, a former distance learning student from Pallisa, completed her degree in 2004. She says the programme is convenient.

“Distance learners usually interact with lecturers during holidays. This provides space for other activities.”
She says she could not afford paying tuition for full-time courses, but her dream came true when she learnt of distance learning at Makerere University.

Asiu says they pay less than what the full-time students pay.
“We pay sh665,000 per year yet full-time students pay for tuition and accommodation every semester,” Nasala says.

However, despite its advantages, the programme also has challenges. Wilbert Tumwesigye a Bachelor of Commerce student at Makerere University, says it is difficult to get enough space during examinations and face-to-face sessions with teachers since the students of the formal education occupy all lecture rooms.

Sharon Nabukeera, also a Bachelor of Commerce student at Makerere, says they are told to pay more money for extra lessons. “If you want more lecturers, you have to pay for them, if you do not, you do not study.”

She says the two-week face-to face encounter with the lecturers is not enough for them to digest all the topics.
The programme is being funded by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), an intergovernmental organisation created by the Commonwealth Heads of Government to encourage the development and sharing of open learning/distance education knowledge, resources and technologies.

COL is a worldwide intergovernmental organisation dedicated to promoting and delivering distance education and open learning. Its work is grouped into three activities: education, learning for livelihoods and human environment.

The Institutes of Adult and Continuing Education at Makerere and Kyambogo universities were established with the backing of COL.

With headquarters in British Columbia, US, COL became fully operational in 1989.

Distance learning: Building a CV without losing your job

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