TEN YEARS OF TEACHING LAW THROUGH OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNING MODE AT THE OPEN UNIVERSITY OF TANZANIA: QUALITY THAT MATTERS
Provision of quality and affordable education for all is the motto of the Open University of Tanzania (OUT). This institution has been in the education industry for more than twenty five (25) years since its establishment by an Act of Parliament No. 17 of 1992. The overall evaluation of its activities has been elaborated in various documents when the university celebrated her 20 years anniversary in the year 2012/2013. Summarily, the university is progressing very well by recruiting more students in various fields of studies as well as establishing new academic programmes and short courses to cater for special needs in the society. Concerning the idea of having OUT regional colleges, the same has managed to establish and successfully operate regional, district and examination centres in all regions and some districts in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar. The university has also opened its doors to international markets by having OUT centres in foreign countries like Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Namibia. Although the number of students has risen, the number of active students seems to have dropped; a phenomenon that needs a serious academic intervention to find out why this is happening at a time when education is regarded as the top agenda around the globe. This paper tries to explain the experience of teaching law at the Faculty of Law of the Open University of Tanzania for a period of ten years from 2008 to date. This will include the mode of teaching law in OUT, involvement of students in education delivery mode, supervision of undergraduate research projects, delivery of face to face programmes, and assessment through take-home assignments, timed tests, annual examinations as well as on-demand examinations. The paper analysed the concept of the use of statutes in the examination rooms for law students which has been banned at OUT for various reasons. The paper also provides solutions and recommendations to better the situation. This paper heavily depended on the experience of the author as a law lecturer at OUT for the last ten years and explored some valuable literature related to quality assurance in higher learning institutions with particular attention to open and distance learning. It was found that the faculty of law in particular and the university at large is still maintaining the provision of affordable and quality education for all its customers at all levels of studies.
Keywords: Law, Open University, quality, quality assurance, teaching.