Education is a crucial tool that helps support social-economic developments while also bettering the lives of young people in society. Unfortunately, the cost of acquiring education has, in the past few decades, significantly escalated beyond affordable levels. Governments of different countries, especially in developing countries, have been working towards developing a framework where inclusive education is availed to all people. It is important for stakeholders in the education sector to consider offering open education and open resources required to facilitate learning among students. The vast majority of the beneficiaries of such an open educational framework will be students, in addition to countries benefiting from a boosted economy.
The cost of education is currently high
One of the key drivers that necessitate the essence of open education and related resources is the fact that the current cost of acquiring education is exceptionally high. Cost of education in tertiary institutions has significantly skyrocketed in first world countries. In the US and Europe, for instance, tuition fees average at around $30,000 a year, depending on the type, of course, being undertaken and the learning institution in question. With the rising cost of education, more qualified and willing students are getting thrown out of learning opportunities, therefore denying them opportunities to become active contributors to the economy.
In Africa, the situation is much worse. Despite the average cost of tertiary education averaging at around $3,000, social-economic challenges facing African households imply that such funds cannot be available for students to pursue their education. Time has come, therefore, for learning institutions and governments across the globe to rethink the area of educational financing to cut on the cost of acquiring technical and skill-based education in advanced-level learning institutions.
Boosting the quality of education
Even in situations where students have opportunities to attend colleges and universities, their ability to acquire top quality and competent education is significantly hindered by the unavailability of quality learning materials. Materials, such as purchased books and textbooks required for students to complete their courses successfully, are either unavailable in institutions’ libraries or charged a premium fee in bookshops.
As part of the solution to the problem of shortage of resources in learning institutions, the government and learning institutions can work out a formula with existing learning resource providers to bring down the cost of acquiring textbooks. With a concerted effort among the existing stakeholders in the education sector, students can be able to rent textbooks online at an affordable rate that is commensurate with their budget.
The need for flexibility in learning institutions
For a long time, learning institutions have been offering rigid educational programs, thereby denying students the opportunity to engage and invest in other activities while still learning. With an open education system and structure in place, learning institutions can be able to provide home-based learning where students do not have to attend classes in person. Such an opportunity will be a great solution to a host of other problems facing the entire education sector. For instance, workers in businesses will be able to invest in acquiring cheap, readily available, and flexible education by enrolling in corresponding learning institutions.
Students’ flexibility as far as undertaking diploma and degree programs are concerned will also be greatly facilitated by the existing flexible learning resources availed by stakeholders. Students investing in online learning, for instance, will be greatly supplemented by the availability of opportunities to rent textbooks online as required of them by their learning institutions.
Given that such stakeholders facilitating the availability of resources on a flexible scale have already gone a long way to play their part, it is now the responsibility of the government and learning institutions to come on board and help actualize the concept of open education and open textbooks.
Investing in the future
The future of the entire education sector and its role in facilitating social and economic development and integration is significantly bright and limitless. The only way that we, as a society, can play our part is facilitating the penetration of education among enthusiastic students. Facilitating such a milestone will be acting in coordination with the need to invest in the future of education.
With the increased globalization and integration of countries into geographic and economic blocks, the standards of education should be equally ready to allow more students to gain an education. This will allow the sufficient equipping of students to become competent workers who are capable of exporting their skills to other countries.
Businesses employing workers will also get an opportunity to push for their employees to consider broadening their skills as a way of advancing productivity and competency in the workplace. Facilitating open education for common courses helps raise the bar as far as the quality of education is concerned. For instance, reducing or eliminating the cost of education for courses, such as computer science and programming, creates a tech-competent population that is capable of taking up any challenge or opportunity presented in the tech-world today. It also positions a country for enhanced technical competence and creates a better education where self-employment flourishes.
In conclusion, open education and open learning materials is an idea whose time has already arrived. It is now upon stakeholders in the education sector to consider the multiple benefits to be enjoyed and act accordingly by facilitating the implementation of the idea. The net effect of such a program will be social-economic growth and development.