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CAMEROON: Educational Program in Rural Areas

Local Partner: Coalition for Education and Health – CEST International
Year: 2010

BACKGROUND
In the Cameroon, 46% of kids drop out after primary school and only 1% continues all the way to university. The country has a very high poverty level which, as in most of Africa, is concentrated in the rural areas. Here, illiteracy affects almost 90% of the population. Les Hauts-Plateaux is an area comprised mostly of farmers who have little land and few technical skills.  Logone and Chari are among the poorest regions in the country.  Both zones are characterized by their inadequate education system, including a serious lack of qualified teachers, equipment and supplies. A primary school education ends with many students still unable to read, write and do the most elementary mathematical calculations in a satisfactory manner.

IMPLEMENTATION
As a first step towards improving the quality of education for nearly 1,000 children in the selected areas, 275 teachers in 10 different schools received professional training needed to begin to effect change.  Pedagogy manuals were created based on the training workshops and distributed to an additional 1,000 educators.  A school book distribution plan was put in place, resulting in 1,185 books distributed to the schools for the benefit of more than 600 children and future generations of students.  Scholarships for a full academic year were awarded to 100 students in need.

RESULTS: IMPROVED QUALITY OF EDUCATION
“The project took place during an important moment for the country’s education system”, says Dr. Gilbert Mboubou, Principal of Moyopo, a bilingual academic institute in Bafoussam (West Cameroon) and author of the pedagogical method used for the teachers’ training and the manual.  “Recently, the Ministry of Education began reforming the teaching system to improve its quality and take measures against the high level of drop-outs. In practice, though, reforms are difficult due to the scarce economic resources available. Thanks to the Harambee-funded program, we were able to reach out to 275 teachers, provide them with qualified training and impress upon them the importance of their role in building a better future for young generations”.  For teachers, what truly made them commit is the fact that the pedagogical system they were taught through the program’s workshop was developed by one of their own, a reputable African professor who could understand their pressing needs.  “As a result”, continues Mboubou “we have more aware and energized teachers who love their work and are eager to make a difference. That, in turn, has a positive effect on students’ enthusiasm and achievement”.

Harambee-donated library in one of the schools

RESULTS: MOTIVATED TEACHERS SHARING EXPERTISE WITH COLLEAGUES
The program’s beneficiaries have acquired fundamental tools needed to continue the journey autonomously. One of Africans’ major strengths lies in their sense of community, which makes them share what they learn with others. The practical impact of this cultural trait is seen in the ripple effect produced by the program’s teacher training. The workshop’s participants are now passing the acquired knowledge along to their colleagues who couldn’t attend, with every participant sharing material and insights with at least 3 other teachers. The reach of the initial training program is then magnified to benefit a much larger community of educators and children.

RESULTS: TEXTBOOKS AVAILABLE TO ALL CHILDREN
More than 600 children now have access to textbooks, something that they were missing before and was hampering their learning progress heavily. The books will become part of the schools’ libraries so that future generations of students will be able to take advantage of the material supplied by Harambee.

More educational projects in Cameroon.