The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a paradigm shift in Cameroon’s educational milieu.
“ They said no phones inside the school, today school is inside the phone,” this joke which has been making rounds on social media depicts a true picture of what the educational system in Cameroon has become today following the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Yes, it is truism that schools have been closed since March 18 following government measures to stem the spread of coronavirus. Physically, the doors of all institutions of learning have been shot but most are open virtually through the distance education or tele-learning platforms. Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) introduced tele-teaching for both radio and television for examination classes. CRTV’s management says it is intended to keep the memories of the students and pupils fresh. A local cable television channel based in Buea, Hi TV is also doing same to keep kids of its subscribers abreast with school work. Both initiatives have been greatly applauded across the board.
Apart from tele-learning, the higher education and professional training institutions have adopted the e-learning method to keep the teaching and learning process unabated. Nearly all higher institutions, both public and private are dispensing lectures online using various platforms. Good thing the President of the Republic had distributed 500,000 laptops worth FCFA 75 billion to students of the higher education system in Cameroon. The University of Buea just like the other seven State universities are in the mode of e-learning. The Registrar of the University of Buea, Prof Ernest Molua says an e-learning platform is in place which students can access through various faculties and schools manuals. Students have been registering for their second semester courses online and the registered courses alongside their timetable sent to their university emails. “Students working on final year research should use WhatsApp and emails to liaise with their supervisors,” the Registrar’s release indicated. At the University of Douala, Dr Joseph Mvogo Ngono, head of the ICT Division says the institution has put in place platforms for content management and another for web-conferencing to enable interaction between students and lecturers. Unfortunately, both officials contacted could not reveal the cost of the innovation to the universities stating that the process is still ongoing.
According to a Software engineer, Mpara Faith, who developed an e-learning administrative App (Scholar) being used for now by some four schools in Kumba, Buea and Douala, schools should use platforms they can afford. “For some schools, it is WhatsApp, for others Google Classroom and Zoom,” she said. One of the schools that implements her complete package of the e-learning programme pays 6 USD (about FCFA 3,600) per user (student or teacher) per month.