An Information and Communication Technology (ICT) company in Cameroon, Evo-Solutions, is partnering with the country's Secondary Education Ministry to support an online learning initiative that was launched in June.

Both parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to this effect recently in the capital, Yaounde, with the goal being to provide the Ministry not only with technical expertise but also ICT gadgets which will be made available to students for use.

As part of the first phase of the project, the IT firm has made available 10, 000 computer tablets and 1,000 video projectors to enable the production and dissemination of lessons to students online.

Students of 60 secondary schools selected from Cameroon’s three administrative Regions - the Center, Littoral and South West - will benefit from the pilot phase of the project, according to Secondary Education Minister Professor Pauline Nalova Lyonga.

According to the MoU, the ICT firm will also provide training to teachers on how to upload lessons on to the tablets and provide internet connectivity to all the schools involved in the first phase of the program. The 1,000 video projectors will be installed in libraries of the pilot schools.

“Evo-solutions have come at the right time when we have started distance education and we need a lot of ICT equipment to make education reach every Cameroonian child at this time,” Professor Nalova Lyonga said at the ceremony to sign the MoU.

“We know that it is COVID-19 but we want to assure that the pandemic will not take us back so long as we have Cameroonians who are ready to support our efforts of taking education to our children by every means possible,” she added.

René Bikim, Chief Executive Officer of the ICT company expressed delight after sealing the deal and said it is part of their mission to accompany institutions in ICT-related initiatives.

Cameroon's Secondary Education Minister (right) symbolically receives one of the tablets from Evo Solutions CEO after signing the MoU.

How the tablets will be used

“These tablets will be used in the way that you use books. Lessons that the students need will be uploaded on all the tablets. Students in the pilot schools concerned will alternatively take turns to make use of the tablets – say for one week before returning them to allow an opportunity for other students to use them,” Professor Nalova Lyonga explained.

The MoU, according to the parties, will go into effect in October 2020 when schools will resume in Cameroon for the 2020/2021 academic year.

Online or distance learning within Cameroon’s Secondary Education sector was not taken very seriously until the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country in March.

The situation forced the closure of schools in the country for nearly three months, a thing that triggered government authorities to devise ways and means of enabling students to catch up with their lessons. As such, an online learning platform was launched on 2 June with the support of Orange Cameroun, the Cameroon office of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and other partners.

Last month, UNESCO also donated a number of ICT equipment to the Ministry’s Multimedia production center to help in the preparation and uploading of lessons on the website dedicated to the purpose.

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