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After escaping Boko Haram terrorist group, Cameroon Students not accepted in schools in their Homeland

Since 2014, some government-funded teachers have refused transfers to schools in areas vulnerable to Boko Haram attacks, further straining those schools' resources

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Cameroon Students. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Lara Salamatou wants to resume her education, but as Cameroon schools reopened Monday, the 16-year-old could only get lessons in frustration.

She’d tried to enroll in the government high school in Maroua, the Far North provincial capital, after fleeing three months ago from extremist violence near her home in Kerawa on the border with Nigeria. She was turned away because of overcrowded classes and few teachers, she said.

Now, Salamatou is among at least 100,000 displaced youths whose education has been jeopardized this academic year, according to Cameroon’s government.

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Authorities recently shut her school in Kerawa, along with 160 others, because of cross-border raids by the Nigerian-based Boko Haram Islamic insurgents. Schools in host communities are overcrowded and insecurity has delayed construction of more classrooms.

Would-be students wait

At a French-speaking government elementary school here, roughly 500 prospective pupils still waited outside as classes began Monday.

Teacher Njah Clementine said the school wouldn’t admit youths whose parents had not paid the $10-per-student fee required by parent-teacher associations for expenses such as textbooks and exams. PTAs manage public schools in collaboration with the government,which provides otherwise free elementary education. It’s compulsory for youngsters ages 6 through 14.

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Though many of the deterred youngsters have been displaced from conflict zones, Clementine said, the government hasn’t provided instructions on whether to admit them.

“There are so many parents that rush at the last minute to come and pay. … Some are begging” that their children be allowed to come to class, Clementine said, insisting the school has “effective” teachers. “They prepared their lessons since last week.”

Since 2014, some government-funded teachers have refused transfers to schools in areas vulnerable to Boko Haram attacks, further straining those schools’ resources.

Battling Boko Haram

Across the border in northern Nigeria, Boko Haram attacks government schools and schoolchildren. The Islamist militants oppose education; the group’s name translates to “Western education is forbidden.”

Cameroon’s minister of basic education, Youssouf Hadidja Alim, said the government is striving to build more classrooms in safer locales. She said it has constructed more than 200 classrooms, noting that 87 buildings have toilets. The government also has installed 56 wells to serve the education sites. More facilities are planned, she said.

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The government also is providing special allowances for teachers to encourage them to teach in vulnerable areas and has implemented an emergency plan for border areas, Alim said.

But Boko Haram fighters target the companies building the schools, said the Far North region’s top-ranking basic education official, Aminou Sanda Zoua. He said that contractors have abandoned construction sites because of mounting insecurity. He added that all classrooms built by the military’s engineering corps are ready for use. (VOA)

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The Unconventional Way of Learning: Textbooks Come Alive in Gujarat’s Schools

Outdated teaching methods, lack of interest among students and teachers, and gender discrimination were some of the common problems.

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Outdated teaching methods, lack of interest among students and teachers, and gender discrimination were some of the common problems. Pixabay

 In a small school near Bhuj in Gujarat, a group of class five students sit attentively in class, their eyes glued to an LCD screen. The opened science books on their laps have come alive on the screen before them, as an animated character explains the nuances of the chapter in their native language, Gujarati. Efficient learning, experts say, happens when students enjoy the experience, and in hundreds of schools across Gujarat, digitised school textbooks are opening up children’s minds like never before.

Learning Delight, the hand that is turning the wheel of change in 10,000 government schools, mostly in rural and semi-urban areas across the state, has been digitising the state curriculum since 2011, and has the approval of the Gujarat Council of Educational Research and Training (GCERT). The idea is simple: use technology to aid classroom teaching to make the learning process more engaging, more efficient – and definitely more fun.

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This led the two to use technology and design, an e-learning tool that would aid classroom teaching.. Pixabay

So much so, that in a survey done in 350 schools where they have a presence, Parinita Gohil, co-founder of Learning Delight, said, “The dropout rate among children studying between Class 1 and Class 8 has come down by 6-7 per cent in the past five years.”

It all started a decade back when two friends, Harshal Gohil and Vandan Kamdar, who were doing their MBA, realised that there was a huge gap in education between schools in different settings. Outdated teaching methods, lack of interest among students and teachers, and gender discrimination were some of the common problems. This led the two to use technology and design, an e-learning tool that would aid classroom teaching.

“Harshal and Vandan began with a survey in five schools. Here they found that although there was no dearth in infrastructure – the schools had computers – there was scepticism about using them,” Parinita Gohil, who is married to Harshal Gohil, told IANS. The resistance mainly arose because “most teachers were not comfortable with the English language, were scared of using the computer, and apprehensive if the computers would replace their role”.

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There has, however, been an exception in this digitisation process – the language textbooks, be it English, Hindi, or Gujarati, have been left out. Pixabay

Therefore, the offline computer software that they developed was designed in such a way that a teacher’s presence was necessary in the class. The medium of instruction was Gujarati. “So be it any subject – science, math, social studies – the content was digitised in a way that through animation, riddles, puzzles, and stories textbook learning is made more interactive and fun,” Parinita Gohil said. The experts who designed the digitised content also had teachers on board.

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There has, however, been an exception in this digitisation process – the language textbooks, be it English, Hindi, or Gujarati, have been left out. “We don’t want children to leave reading their books. So, while we have digitised the grammar lessons, language textbooks have been left as they are,” she said.

Next in the pipeline is a mobile phone app being developed with a similar software and a foray into Rajasthan, for which software has been developed in Hindi and in tandem with the Rajasthan state education board. (IANS)