By Stephane Kamtchuing (YES 2012-2013, Cameroon, hosted by AFS in Cleveland, OH)
During my YES year, I realized that there was a very high usage of ICT tools in the classrooms at my host school, even in classes such as history. However, this is not generally the case in Cameroon. We have very intelligent students in my country, but due to different factors such as large classroom populations (up to 120 students in one classroom), limited availability of teachers, low ICT literacy, and the high cost of operating the current systems, the less fortunate students do not receive the optimal and effective teaching/learning experience. Despite the lack of usage, there are resources available to use in Cameroon. Most schools can afford the ICT output devices like speakers, projectors, televisions, and basic tools for presenting their lessons. In addition, we already have 4G for connectivity, which is quite fast. I believe that for everyone to advance, we need to recognize what we have and use those resources to grow and attain our desired level of change in our education system.
To raise ICT awareness, a team of YES alumni decided to apply for the YES Alumni Grant for a workshop titled “Fundamentals of Information and Communication Technology for Effective Teaching”. The project ran between September 11 – October 3, 2019. We targeted 25 students from 3rd to 6th grades and 25 teachers from the nearby schools. We decided to invite class prefects to attend since prefects can effectively coordinate ICT trainings with other to spread the knowledge.
The core of the workshop was centered on Microsoft office package (PowerPoint, Word and Excel). We had sessions every Wednesday with the students. Students had insights on how to use their already available electronics to better understand notes at home with sites like Wikipedia, Quora, and more. We showed participants how to use appropriately and effectively leverage social media. Our sessions with students were packed with motivational talks and videos to keep them boosted even after the workshop. Our students are the leaders of tomorrow so they need to be encouraged to reach their potential. We also invited speakers and trainers from Open Dreams, a youth mentorship organization, and one speaker from “The Duke of Edinburgh's Award”. These speakers introduced the students to other educational opportunities so they can continue to achieve more success in the future.
We introduced the Research, Filter, Compile and Share technique to the teachers. The teachers received some training on MS Office ahead of the students. We also introduced other alternatives for MS Office Package in case teachers didn’t have access to the software. We taught different ways to save documents through the Cloud for security and availability reasons. We showed teachers how to use websites like Google Scholar, Khan Academy, Prezi, and more. We also discussed the issues with our current teaching system and elaborated on ways to improve the teaching experience and pedagogical techniques with specific examples with respect to their subjects. One teacher raised a problem of engagement of students during her literature class. As a solution, she plans to play a conversation of the book through a speaker to help engage more senses, delivering a higher retention in the students.
We created a club for the students to track their progress. A WhatsApp group is now running to help the teachers with any technical difficulty they have. … “I have learned Microsoft word, how to arrange sentences and Excel. I have also learned from one of the motivational videos that, you can change yourself from taking GOOD decisions. Your change only depends on your personal choices,” said Scmit Batta, a 3rd grade student, now the Vice President of the ICT Club. “I thought, I knew everything about the Information and Communication tools, but I was proven wrong; in fact, I have not even started. This workshop has given me a push to force myself to learn more,” said an English teacher.
I see a real opportunity to upgrade the minimum level of literacy with a readily available set of technologies. By doing this, it will have a greater impact on the nation’s economic balance since more people will be able to find work and take advantage of their assets to increase their knowledge. With my team, we plan to open a hub where anybody could come and use all the technology items available to carry out all computer-related activities. We would like to thank the State Department and the YES Alumni Grant program for supporting our cause and this wonderful opportunity to make a difference in our community.