Education

Varsity Don Advocates Digitalisation Of Cameroonian Universities

Varsity

By Yiven Zariatou & Mangue Lauralee

Prof. Victor Mbarika, an endowed Professor of Information and Communication Technology, ICT, in East Carolina University, has called for the digitalisation of both public and private universities in Cameroon, given acute shortages in opportunities to attend traditional universities.

He made the call during a workshop organised by the Cameroon Academy of Sciences, CAS, under the theme, “Leveraging ICT and distance education in the service of Cameroon’s universities in the era of COVID-19 and post COVID-19”. The event took place on October 25, 2021, at the Yaounde Hilton Hotel.

The workshop was aimed at producing a compendium of recommendations to serve as a road map in consolidating and improving the use of ICT in teaching, learning and research in higher education within the context of distance education to be available for exploitation by all concerned with higher education.

Talking during the workshop, Prof. Victor Mbarika said the University of Information and Communication Technology looks forward to implementing digital technology in Cameroonian universities, as COVID-19 has disrupted education at a time when developing countries are still experiencing online learning.

“Distance education using information technology interventions has become commonplace in developed nations around the world. Given this trend, many resource-poor developing nations have jumped into the e-learning bandwagon given inadequate infrastructures and congestion of people in traditional universities,” said Prof Mbarika.

He further showed a variety of E-learning projects the university has implemented worldwide as well as funding for E-learning and E-Libraries through the ICT University Foundation in the USA. He also highlighted that distance education using information technology is faster and easily comprehended by students and has become a necessity due to the pandemic.

According to Prof. Tchotsoua Michel, a lecturer of Geography at the University of Ngaoundere in Northern Cameroon, despite all efforts made by the administration in the University of Ngaoundere, they still face infrastructural and educational resource problems such as limited classrooms and high-student- to teacher ratio, a situation that worsened during the COVID-19.

He added that, following the recommendations of the Ministry of Higher Education, MINESUP, to migrate to e-learning systems, the university has developed several platforms in this line. “We are still faced with a limited number of classes, coupled with the problems faced by the University of Ngaoundere in implementing e-learning due to the large population.

“The network infrastructure inspection was carried out to determine the feasibility of deploying and using the Massive Open Online Course, MOOC, within the university. This is because the rate of e-learning platforms remains low. So, the MOOC is an acceptable alternative,” said Prof. Tchotsoua Michel.

According to the UN, more than half a billion children worldwide cannot access education as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, efforts are critical to achieving sustainable development goals in line with education for all.

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