Distance Learning Access to Higher Education in Zambia
Cosmas Makunka, University of Zambia
In January 1964, the Government signified that it accepted the recommendations
of the Lockwood Commission and within four months there was an inaugural meeting
of the Provisional Council of the University, the body charged with bringing
the University into being.
Purpose of the study
Significance of the study
Limitation of the study
Human beings in their socialization history and educational period have always tried to establish good contacts in order to share or change their knowledge, and experiences with whom they have established easy communication. This is a kind of feeling in their life. It is an absolute necessity for mentally, physically and emotionally development of human beings.
In a discussion of distance education definitions, Keegan (1986, p. 49) lists the main elements of a definition as: -
- The quasi-permanent separation of teacher and learner throughout the length of the learning process; this is from conventional face-to-face education.
- The influence of an educational organization, both in the planning and preparation of learning materials and in the provision of student support services; this distinguishes it from private study and teach-yourself program.
- The use technical media; print, audio, video or computer, to unite teacher and learner and carry the content of the course.
- The provision of two-way communication so that the student may benefit from or even initiate dialogue; this distinguishes it from other uses of technology in education.
- The quasi-permanent absence of the learning group throughout the learning process so that people are usually taught as individuals and not in groups with the possibility of occasional meetings for both didactic and socialization purposes.
This definition of distance education has been widely quoted, but it is not universally accepted. Several alternative definitions have been suggested, and writers have pointed out courses, which do not fit neatly within the definition. Given the diversity of courses offered at a distance, someone could probably point out and exemption to almost any definition
Distance education is a rapidly growing field with respect to both practice
and promise. With respect to practice, distance education has permeated all
sectors of education, ranging from primary school to higher education to business
and industry, within just a few short years. With respect to promise, it is
a field that may redefine twenty-first century education. The growing impact
of distance education is significant given the fact that the field is but in
its infancy. Even the defining term, distance education has been in use only
a few short years. With rapid advances in technology we can only imagine what
future decades will hold for our institutions of learning.
DESCRIPTION OF ACTIVITIES
Method of data collection
DATA ANALYSIS AND RESULTS
Data analysis is the process of bringing order, structure and meaning to the mass of collected data. Data analysis involved classifying of questions, coding of themes and categorizing of themes according to the mostly frequently used phrases or generative themes that were later tabulated into frequency tables for easy interpretation of the findings.
58.53% of the respondents stated that it was not difficult to understand courses taken by distance education mode than courses taken by full time mode. 34.15% of them stated that the courses were difficult to understand.
78.05% of the respondents stated that they studied individually. 19.51% studied in groups
48.78% of the respondents were promoted after obtaining the qualification. 29.27% of them had their salary scales adjusted. 14.63% of them were able to undertake further studies.
82.93% of the respondents stated that the course contents in UNZA programs met professional needs at their working places. However, 17.07% disagreed.
How local community perceived studying by distance education
39.02% of the respondents stated that the local community respected the mode of study. 17.07% said that the local community took students studying by distance education mode as less intelligent. 12.20% said such students were intelligent.
Profile of participants
The results revealed that 82.93% of the participants were men while 17.07% of them were women. 36.59% of the respondents were aged between 41 and 45 years. The ministry of education employed 87.80% of the respondents. Most of them had working experience ranging between 5 to 20 years.
34.15% of the respondents who stated that the courses were difficult to understand gave the following reasons:
- there were few books for reference;
36.58% of the respondents stated that most of their workmates had diploma qualification. 31.71% stated that some of their workmates had first degree. 14.63% stated that they had friends in employment with master’s degree
Upon completion of studies successfully, 48.78% of the respondents were promoted, 29.27% had their salary scale adjusted and 14.63% of them were able to go for further studies. Only 7.32% of the respondents did not benefit in any way.
The respondents gave many reasons for undertaking studies at UNZA through distance learning, 26.83% were for job satisfaction, 19.51% for self actualization, 7.32% for self esteem and 9.76% wanted to help the local community.
39.02% of the respondents revealed that the local community respected this mode of study. They also took such students to be intelligent. However some local people took them as less intelligent to be full time students from the beginning.
Many respondents stated that they faced many problems when they were studying through distance learning mode. They said that some of the problems were:
- inadequate funds to pay for fees, residential school, transport to and from
UNZA and at the same time supporting the family. They linked insufficient finances
to support both studies and family to low salaries and lack of support from
78.05% of the respondents said that they studied individually because:
- they were the only one studying by the mode in the area;
19.51% preferred to study in groups because:
- other students helped when stuck with a problem;
- difficult in getting study materials elsewhere;
Respondents who worked in groups stated that reading alone had disadvantages such as:
- it was expensive to shoulder all costs;
82.93% of the respondents stated that course contents on UNZA programmes met professional needs of work. They had this to say about the course contents:
- they knew exactly what was supposed to be taught to students;
17.07% said that the course contents did not meet professional needs at work. They advised that the contents should be classroom oriented and based on what students would find obtaining at grassroot level rather than the theoretical aspect of the course that had nothing to do with work. They alleged that the content at a college like Nkrumah Teachers College was enough to teach from grades 8 – 12, unlike the content at UNZA, which was too advanced to teach at a college. They observed that some course contents were outdated.
Most of the respondents obtained Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Arts with Education qualification upon completion of their studies. After acquiring the qualification, they positively contributed to society in many ways such as:
- on return they became most dependable teachers in subjects like English literature;
Distance education or open learning is one of the ways of solving the developing
and/or developed countries educational problems. In most societies, provision
of education is a problem due to limited funding, quality of teaching team,
physical capacities and so on. Distance education tries to solve these problems
by using mass media to meet educational demand for its society within its own
We recommend that the government should expand provision of distance education at any level so that people could acquire knowledge they missed earlier. This can be done by introducing distance education at all levels of education. Subsidizing such kind of education knowing that poverty levels are high in the country should also support it. The government should find partners in providing education if it may be impossible to do so on its own.
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