The status and challenges of open and distance learning in Kenya's public universities
Anyona, K. Jackline
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The ever increasing demand for university education, overstretched residential facilities and the need for continued learning have led to the emergence of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in Kenya. These ODL programmes have however been faced with challenges which this study sought to identify. The focus of this study was on ODL delivery models in Kenya, training and motivation of staff, cost and consistency of the programmes delivery across geographical locations, learner's interaction with facilitators and feedback. Descriptive survey design was adopted in this study. University of Nairobi and Kenyatta University were purposively selected for the study. Random sampling was used to select respondents who included the students registered in ODL, lecturers and senior administrators involved. Data were collected through 702 questionnaires for students, 278 questionnaires for lecturers, 2 interview schedules for administrators, and document analysis. Content validity of the instruments was done before the instruments were pre-tested and reliability calculated using split-half technique for internal consistency. The data were analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively. Quantitatively the data was analyzed using descriptive statistics aided by statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) and Microsoft excel. Results indicated that Kenya was in the early stages of developing ODL and at the time of the study, the programmes were offered through various institutions which initially started by offering residential modes. Various challenges touching on non optimal utilization of programme facilities, delays in production of study materials, inadequate funding, and low teaching staff levels were identified. Efforts of the ODL providers in Kenya were also not guided by national policies posing a challenge on resource mobilization and programme quality issues. These institutions, being dual mode were overwhelmed and were not able to meet demand for university education. The study thus established that the institutions offering ODL in Kenya are governed by their own institutional policies and that ODL delivery in Kenya is faced with various challenges that hinder its full implementation. It is hoped that the findings of this study and the recommendations therefore suggested would aid the government and universities in Kenya to achieve their goal of providing quality open and distance education at an affordable cost. It would aid in policy on the establishment of a national open university to cater for increased demand for university education, budgetary provision for ODL programmes, the articulation of national policies for open and distance education and efficient use of ODL resource centers in providing student support services.