Distance learning an affordable option

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Windhoek – Southern Business School of Namibia Director Albin Jacobs says distance learning is a very affordable choice.

He said there are no expensive campuses to maintain and almost everything is done digitally, which allows for significant savings that are passed on to the students.

“This is one of the reasons why so many students in Africa have now accessed this form of education and Namibia is no exception,” he reasoned.

According to him, education comes in many forms, but here in Namibia people all still aspire to attend some form of tertiary education institution such as the University of Namibia (Unam) and the Namibian University of Science and Technology (NUST).

“These institutions are however not the only road to an education, especially for people that are already working and or for some reason did not have the opportunity, money or time to follow the beaten path to academic education straight out of high school,” Jacobs noted.

He said this is where academic institutions like Southern Business School Namibia play an important role. He maintained distance learning and e-learning are becoming an integral and vital part of the education landscape with many advantages.

He said people often do not think and realise that distance learning is a real viable option, providing one to choose a properly accredited institution.

According to him, as technology has changed, so has the definition of distance learning.

“Videotaped lectures or audio tapes have been used in tertiary education around the world for many years. These were known as correspondence courses to teach subjects such as foreign languages. With the global proliferation of the internet, email and social media, distance learning can occur in real time and has become accessible in remote areas; all you need is an internet connection,” Jacobs further explained.

In Africa, and specifically in this case, Namibia, he said distance learning allows potential students to gain access to tertiary education that they would otherwise maybe not have.

He added that the vast distances that need to be travelled to simply get to a physical institute of higher learning is often a limiting factor.

“But, now internet, email and other forms of technology ensure access to a wealth of up-to-date information for distance students. Whereas, outdated textbooks and syllabi are often the norm in traditional tertiary institutes,” he said, adding that distance learning is not learning in isolation as the network of other students, lecturers and tutors are all online.

He explained students still work together; have sounding boards and people to learn from. This, he says, is all part of the education process in distance learning.

“There are even dedicated forums and chat rooms online for the students to interact and share ideas. You don’t have to set meetings, reschedule or commute to meet for assignments. The evolution of distance learning using technology has completely transformed the prospects of thousands if not millions of students from all walks of life in Africa.

They now have the opportunity to study what they want, at an institution of their choosing and when they want. Providing them with the most powerful tool available – education,” Jacobs said.

He highlighted it is essential that as the number of distance learning institutions grows across Africa and in Namibia, that these tertiary schools are accredited.

He said too many colleges offer worthless degrees or certificates. In Namibia, the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) certifies and accredits the schools if they fulfil the stringent requirements.

He said this is essential if the degree or certificate is to help in furthering one’s professional or academic career.

“The future of distance learning is bright in Africa, but as always do your homework before registering with an institution. But, do pursue that certificate, diploma or degree that you have been dreaming of, or need for your next promotion,” he encouraged.

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