The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), a body mandated to regulate the provision and conduct of Higher Education in Uganda, is desirous of implementing an emergency ODeL system for enabling the Higher Education training institutions to offer teaching and learning during the current lockdown. The ODeL system of learning provision is globally recognized as a worthy mechanism for flexible learning. It has been observed that ODeL avails numerous benefits as a teaching and learning system, because it focuses on learners, and provides for continuous engagements between the instructor and learners as and when is desirable.
The NCHE takes cognizance of the readiness to reopen expressed by the majority of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and has developed guidelines for aiding HEIs to resume their teaching and learning activities remotely, since students and lecturers can be able to interact without necessarily coming into contact, during the lockdown.
The Emergency ODeL Guidelines
The following Guidelines are provided by NCHE for enabling HEIs to commence remote teaching and learning activities during the current lockdown.
That every applicant shall avail to NCHE: -
- To implement the objects of this Act;
- To promote and develop the processing and dissemination of information on Higher Education for the benefit of the people;
- To advise the Minister on the establishment and accreditation of public and private institutions of Higher Education;
- To receive, consider and process applications for -
- the establishment and accreditation of public and private Tertiary Institutions ,private Other Degree Awarding Institutions and private Universities; and
- the accreditation of the academic and professional programmes of those institutions in consultation with Professional Associations and Regulatory Bodies;
- To register all institutions of Higher Education established under this Act;
- To receive and investigate complaints relating to institutions of Higher Education and take appropriate action;
- To monitor, evaluate and regulate institutions of Higher Learning;
- In co-operation with the relevant government departments, private sector, or the different institutions of Higher Education, to evaluate the overall national manpower requirement and recommend solutions to the requirements;
- To ensure minimum standards for courses of study and equating of degrees, diplomas and certificates awarded by the different public and private institutions of Higher Education;
- To set and co-ordinate national standards for admission of students to the different institutions of Higher Education;
- to require and ensure that all universities, whether private or public , adhere to minimum criteria set by the National Council for admission to under-graduate and higher degree programmes;
- To determine the equivalence of all types of academic and professional qualifications of degrees, diplomas and certificates obtained elsewhere with those awarded by Uganda institutions of Higher Education for recognition in Uganda;
- To certify that an institution of Higher Education has adequate and accessible physical structures and staff for the courses to be offered by it;
- To promote national interests in courses of study and professional qualifications among the different types of institutions of Higher Education;
- To ensure that institutions of Higher Education provide adequate facilities and opportunities for carrier guidance and counselling;
- To collect, examine and publish information relating to the different institutions of Higher Education.
- To generally advise the government on policy and other matters relating to institutions of Higher Education;
- To perform any other function incidental to the objects of this Act or relating to Higher Education in Uganda or that may be conferred upon it by the Minister or any other law.
- Eligible HEIs may apply to NCHE for consideration to roll out an ODeL system during the current lockdown.
- Upon receipt of the application from the HEIs, NCHE will carry out the necessary quality assurance checks, including visitations where possible, or requiring an officer from the institution to demonstrate the institution’s technology capability to provide teaching and learning remotely.
- Permission granted to offer emergency ODeL will be valid for twelve (12) months or the duration of the crisis as will be determined by the relevant authorities.
- All institutions that would have been granted permission to offer emergency ODeL shall apply for renewal of the same at least two (2) months before the expiration of the initial period of twelve (12) months to allow for smooth continuity of operations should the pandemic be deemed likely to persist beyond twelve months.
- The NCHE shall continuously Monitor and Evaluate the new schedule of teaching and learning, either online or physically where possible.
- Records of the teaching and learning sessions completed shall be compiled for verification by NCHE through the ODeL system under this arrangement. They shall be availed to NCHE on a semester basis.
- Institutions may develop customized manuals or guidelines but will be required to submit them to NCHE.
- Institutions are encouraged to network with other institutions and exchange information and best practices.
There is overwhelming support of the idea of implementing the ODeL mode of delivery of higher education. However, critical success factors should be upheld, hence the need for adoption of the emergency ODeL system.