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U of O prof provides supplies to Djohong high school

UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA associate psychology professor Daniel Coulombe is helping to bring accessibility to education in Cameroon by providing high schools in the village of Djohong with books, computers, and money.

On a recent trip to Cameroon, Coulombe was inspired by his roommate Guédeyi Hayatouthe, a native of Djohong and teacher at a local high school who taught without books, computers, or a salary for two years. Coulombe paid $2,500 of his own money to deliver computers and books to the school. On a national holiday in the country, more than 10,000 people witnessed the arrival of the new technology.

Coulombe did not stop there. He is preparing another computer shipment and has asked his U of O colleagues to donate books to the University of Ngaoundéré. Coulombe said the university libraries in Ngaoundéré have slow Internet and limited space and materials and could benefit from the U of O’s help.

“As many other universities in Africa, there is a flagrant lack of learning aids,” he said.

He said the school’s library is almost non-existent, holding less than 20,000 books. According to Coulombe, the U of O could organize a book recuperation and easily contribute to the Ngaoundéré library.

Coulombe said the administration can help by organizing committees, creating book deposits, and raising money to pay for delivering books and computers to the school. He believes the U of O could benefit from helping Ngaoundéré not only in terms of image but also in fostering an exchange program between the two institutions.

“The aura of the university at the international level would be enhanced,” he said. “And this aura would be enhanced in the francophone world, which would enhance the visibility of the university for potential francophone students. It would open the door for collaborative projects, as interested U of O professors could be invited to provide workshops or courses in Ngaoundéré. The university could benefit from inviting Ngaoundéré professors as well. It might be possible to develop online courses that would be open to distant students. Both U of O and Ngaoundéré students would benefit from these.”

Coulombe is also interested in providing hands-on experience to the technical college in Djohong.  Due to a lack of equipment, students are unable to properly learn their trade, so Coulombe would like to open a shop in the village with the tools necessary for them to become properly trained.