In order to sustain the transformative impact of the USDA funded McGovern-Dole program in North West Cameroon, Nascent/MGD workers have engaged community leaders, local officials and school staff in Good Governance training workshops to promote, cement and sustain the gains of two critical components of the program. These are:
Improving the literacy of school age children (through improving the literacy teaching skills of teachers and making reading materials more available to students)
Sustaining good health in pupils by continuing the school meals program, with community contributions in school kitchens, school gardens and broad governance sensitization on prioritizing the nutritional needs of students in local and community governance policy.
The workshops were well attended. Attendees were especially attracted to the Participatory Management Model for Basic Education which, even in the context of decentralized government, or reduced funding in poor countries, can sustain high standards for literacy and nutrition in school age children.
Nascent and MCGovern/Dole field workers and beneficiaries recently received our Mid-line program evaluator at various program sites in the North West Region of Cameroon, where Nascent Solutions is currently implementing the initiative.
The program evaluator met with staff in the Nascent offices in Tobin, Kumbo and various beneficiary communities in the region. Assessment meetings with parents and workers were held in classrooms, libraries and school gardens.
School buildings, kitchens, bathrooms, and hand-washing stations under construction and rehabilitation as part of the project to boost nutrition and education in up to 92 rural schools were also visited as part of the evaluation.
Nascent/MGD field workers celebrated and welcomed a delegation from the US embassy in Cameroon in mid October at the CBC Romkong Primary School in impoverished Bui Division. This meeting provided an occasion for Nascent/MGD field workers to extend personal thanks to the US government and the USDA for their support in jump-starting a culture of literacy and sustainability in the region with the McGovern-Dole Food For Education initiative which Nascent Solutions is implementing in the region, as part of its ALIGN( Advancing Literacy with Good Nutrition) program.
The delegation from the US embassy, led by the Deputy for Political and Economic Affairs Dr. Derrin R. Smith, accompanied by Mrs Mihaela Biliovschi Smith (Executive Assistant – Media) and Ms Camille “Jo” Dickison (Political and Economic Affairs – OMS), was joyously received by local chiefs, parents and community members, who are increasingly buying-into the model of development which emphasizes empowering the young with robust education and balanced nutrition. The US embassy delegation chaperoned by Nascent /MGD workers, toured handwashing stations constructed as part of the MGD/ALIGN project to stem the diarrheal diseases that afflict children in the region due to poor or absent sanitation practices and a lack of access to clean water.
The Embassy delegation also visited the school garden which is tended by members of the community and parents to supplement pupil nutrition. They were further shown an example of the improved, new normal, classroom lunch that these otherwise hungry, destitute, school skipping children now have as part of their formation and education.
At the Nascent Office in Kumbo the eminent guests were treated to a presentation of the many facets of the MGD/ALIGN program currently in implementation throughout the region, with classroom and school infrastructure under construction, teacher training underway, hand-washing stations and sanitary bathroom being built, clean water wells being dug and a coordinated effort with local and national institutions to update and streamline the primary school curriculum to give the rural children of the region a fighting chance at success in a changing and challenging global environment.
The visit ended with Nascent staff and the representatives of the US government re-affirming their desire for continued collaboration in the endeavor to lift the marginalized people of the region out of poverty and destitution by providing them the tools to attain self-reliance, resilience and independence.
Nascent Solutions joined the international community on October 15th in celebrating Global Handwashing day. Utilizing a sanitation-is-fun approach we have been educating pupils in rural schools in Bui Division in Cameroon to wash their hands regularly, particularly before eating and after bathroom breaks. These simple guidelines are often absent in poor communities where more immediate issues of finding food and survival dominate social consciousness.
However our education initiatives, paired with Nascent Solutions’ construction of handwashing stations as part of the McGovern-Dole Food For Education program’s implementation has yielded good results. Many children now regard handwashing at the hands-free handwashing stations as a fun activity and are eager to wash their hands before meals, after bathroom breaks and after various other youthful shenanigans.
Celebrating days like the Global Handwashing day helps deepen the entrenchment of good sanitary habits, and we found the pupils in our project schools eager commemorators this year.
Africa’s rural children are being increasing left behind in a rapidly industrializing world. Most young scholars and their teachers are cutoff from the learning and teaching opportunities offered by internet apps and networking tools. The result is a widening gap in literacy, general aptitude and ultimately opportunity. To break this bleak trend Nascent Solutions recently pioneered e-reader training, as part of its implementation of the USDA funded MGD Food For Education program in Cameroon. Mary Wong, the Nascent field coordinator in Bui Division, reported that this first ever e-reader training exercise in Primary School Roberta was a success.
“All the 4 head teachers and 4 class 2 teachers of the pilot schools were present and participated fully. In fact I have never seen a more motivated and engaged group of learners. It was with keen interest and zeal that together we went through the training manual, discovering the marvels of technology in teaching. They cannot wait to begin the training with their pupils, and are very positive in their expectations.”
This segment of the greater Food For Education Program’s implementation seeks to directly expand and invite teachers and students from Africa’s marginalized and forgotten corners into the robust teaching and learning opportunities afforded by modern learning tools, such as the e-reader.
Nascent Solutions is currently accepting donations of working e-readers. Please visit our contact page to mail one in, or visit our donations page to contribute and make a difference.
Nascent Solutions staff, together with traditional and civic authorities in Bui and the Tadu Community joined the rest of the world to celebrate the 50th International Literacy Day. The theme of this years’ celebrations was “Reading the past, writing the future”. The event was held at GS Tadu, where the e-reader program and distribution of supplies to schools were also officially launched.
Overall attendance was about 800 people comprising of Pupils and teachers of GS Tadu, PTA Chairpersons, Head teachers and teachers of the four selected E-reader pilot schools (PS Roberta, CS Djottin, GS Ngashie and GS Tadu), Tadu community members, traditional authorities, the Divisional Delegate of Basic Education, Inspectors of Basic Education, agency heads, the Mayor of Kumbo Council and the Senior Divisional Officer for Bui.
After an overview of the e-reader program, certificates were awarded to 04 head Teachers and 04 class two teachers of the four E-reader pilot schools for successfully taking part in the E-reader training. The PTA chairpersons of the 04 schools received 12 e-readers each for their respective schools, for which they also signed commitment forms.
The people of Tadu expressed gratitude and satisfaction through their massive participation in the event.
The Promotion of education is a core element of Nascent Solutions’ mission. Many rural and agrarian societies are falling victim to new challenges, such as climate change, presented by an increasingly interconnected world. It is therefore of the utmost importance that children growing up in this rapidly changing world be given the tools to succeed. Literacy is a vital and often overlooked fundamental element for thriving in the modern world. Therefore our implementation of the McGovern Dole Food For Education Program goes beyond providing meals, school gardens, and clean water. Through a partnership with Fantastic Phonics, Nascent Solutions hosted seminars in June 2016, for 107 teacher trainers, led by experts from Australia. The seminar attendees comprised at least one teacher from each MGD/ALIGN project school. This strategy puts our teacher trainers in ideal positions to educate their peers in the best practices for literacy training and thereby significantly improve the literacy of our 52,000 target students. These seminars further provide Nascent Solutions’ trainers with a firm baseline from which to build future literacy initiatives and help bring our target communities into the lettered global family.
Nascent Solutions’ programs seek to empower communities and help them acquire autonomy, through education and sustainability initiatives. The recent School Garden Harvest at IPS Njombo in Bui Division, Cameroon, is an affirmation of our bottom up approach to development. Parents and local community members gladly volunteer to to work and tend the gardens as part of the USDA and Nascent Solutions’ MGD FFE/ALIGN project. The program which seeks to provide hot meals and clean water to 52,000 rural school children in Bui Division has been embraced by local communities and parents who on their own are often unable to adequately feed their children.
This recent harvest is testament to the success of our advocacy for child education( particularly girls) and for community and parent involvement in the scholastic life of their children. Through the last decade of Nascent Solutions’ working in the region, we have remarked a pendulum swing in many community members from apathy or cynicism towards the education of their children to enthusiasm. The most rewarding part of this buy-in being that in communities like Njombo, parents and residents readily volunteer, to tend the garden, cook meals in school for pupils and, take time away from their own routines, to harvest the crop for the children.
With a few thousand local community members, chiefs, religious authorities and representatives of the Cameroonian government gathered. The Cameroonian minister of Basic Education madame Alim Adjidja spoke in support of early childhood education. Dr. Beatrice Wamey the CEO of Nascent Solutions spoke too, challenging the authorities of the government of Cameroon to match the McGovern-Dole Food For Education program and the US government and commit significant resources to nourish and educate under-served children.
Then the children spoke and stole the show, warning their parents to keep stray goats from wandering into the school gardens, imploring them to keep volunteering to help in the garden and to cook food for them, and to keep the school structures in good repair. They spoke in skits and plays about the difficulties of being a hungry child attending classes in a run-down classroom.
With loud applause the community heard them. And from all indications the community of Njombo has heard them. Dozens of parents already volunteer to tend the garden and cook in the school kitchen. And the community as a whole is beginning to understand the need for well fed and well educated children. This community buy-in is an important part of Nascent Solutions’ initiatives, which seek to empower communities with starter programs which they can then sustain independently after self-sufficient systems have been put in place.
Thus in this respect the MGD/ALIGN 2016 program( which will provide school children with balanced, healthy meals and clean well-water in school; as well as modern bathrooms, hand-washing stations and structurally sound classrooms) has already been a success.
The US flag and the Cameroonian flag flapped in the wind. Children, who a few years ago were forgotten dregs of the Cameroonian backwoods, susceptible to all manner of negative influences, danced and sang in unison with shining eyes, for the representatives of their government and a program sponsored by the US government and implemented by a US based NGO, Nascent Solutions. In IPS Njombo these Muslim pupils proffered in song the religious greeting “As-Salaam-Alaikum”(peace be unto you) to the US government and the kind-hearted and American people who brought them food and nourishment when they were hungry and forgotten.
Cameroonian Christian, Animist and Muslim communities have peacefully coexisted for decades and centuries. But in Africa today, poverty and desperation are playing a significant part in fraying and breaking traditional bonds of peace and acceptance. With Boko Haram, the radical pseudo-Islamist terrorist group wreaking havoc in neighboring Nigeria and beginning to make cross border raids and recruitment attempts in Cameroon, it is more crucial than ever, to embrace these marginalized children, and offer them a safe place and shelter away from dark and destructive forces. What better sanctuary than a classroom?
Programs like MGD/ALIGN are investments in global peace, security and stability. Distinctions of faith, ethnicity or class were wholly absent everywhere for the launching of this initiative as children from various schools mingled, and priests and imams and local chiefs came together to support a hopeful future for all children.