Despite the on-going socio-political crisis, our organization has been able to implant and brand our new program – Children’s Education and Welfare Empowerment Centre (CEWEC) in Oku Community in Cameroon, with 52 currently registered kids who cannot be in school due to insecurity. The program aims at transforming the society by reorienting education for children that will meet ecological, social, economic and political sustainability. This involves spiritual, mental and physical welfare of children. Over the last one year and through volunteers, the children have gained pragmatic skills through ICT, organic gardening, craftworks and games. In this centre we run both in-centre and outreach activities and projects for children to operate IT equipment such as laptops and a learning mini cinema system as well as do gardening by learning through use of appropriate tools.
Growing insecurity has been recorded since September 2017, and the last half of 2018 marked the peak due to sudden and spontaneous clashes between separatist groups and the regular government security forces -schools have been affected. This has grounded school activities in many communities including the CEWEC program in Oku. We want to ensure the sustainability of the teaching and learning resource unit through an innovative outreach in the delivery of education for our registered children who cannot be in school for security reasons. Our key plan for 2019 is that “if the children can’t reach the CEWEC Teaching and Learning Resources Unit, we should enable the unit reach out to them”. This will be implemented through technology-based homeschooling. This innovation to the current crisis was arrived at during brainstorming discussions we had with our new IT volunteer teachers as well as other interested teachers who are seeking ways to work with us to pilot education delivery projects and activities for children who have not been in school since the resumption of the new school year due to the ongoing crisis.
Oku people settled around the Kilum-Ijim Mountain area because of its favourable climatic and soil conditions for agriculture. Population pressure has over time forced land fragmentation and exhaustion of the soil because of continuous cultivation. With these impacts, farmers can only rely on low producing pieces of land making them vulnerable to food and nutritional security-the worst aspect of poverty. Education remains the main exit strategy in this situation. Lack of opportunities put 7 out of every 10 children in and around the rural community of Oku are at extreme risk for illiteracy, illness, hopelessness, and abuse thus limiting their potential. After operating SOPISDEW as an Oku community organization for 5 years, and after realizing different projects with youths and children it was in this light that our organization mobilized volunteers to come up with the Children’s Education and Welfare Empowerment Centre (CEWEC) program to meet up with the ever increasing need of children and give them the opportunity to live to their full potential and add value to their community and humanity. The original seed grant helped us acquire resources to set up a teaching and learning resource unit for the kids.
Through CEWEC IT-based home-schooling project for out-of-school kids, we will acquire iPads, plus solar charging units, for teaching and learning activities for children who cannot be in school because of the crisis. We will train at least six teachers and volunteers on the use of the devices, install the relevant software, which suits our curriculum, and the volunteers will in turn deliver the devices to at least 52 kids from our program while recruiting others to join. Some of these children are already displaced while others not yet. The teachers/volunteers will then serve as homeschooling coaches for the various families. They will also monitor and assess children’s learning outcomes from using the devices. The devices will become part of the resource unit. The project will not donate the equipment to the families or children, but will rather sign them out for usage until the present insecurity normalizes after which these will become part of the CEWEC Teaching and Learning Resources Unit. We are hoping to attract more donors for the program and to reach out as the pioneer in delivering IT based solutions to the education of children affected in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon.