Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
September 24, 1998
New, independent program builds bridge between Guelph, Cameroon
The University of Guelph and University of Dschang in Cameroon lie half a world apart.
Cameroon is a rural country with a tropical climate and limited resources. About 5,000 students apply annually for 100 available spots to study agriculture at the University of Dschang. Computers and televisions are not easily available to deliver distance education. By comparison, more than 3,000 students enroll in agricultural programs at the University of Guelph and they can choose to learn in the classroom or by television or computer.
Nearly 70 percent of Cameroon's people work in agriculture or agriculture-related fields. There is a constant demand for training, but limited resources, Nji said. Janakiram, who previously worked for an international institute in Cameroon, became involved in 1988 shortly after arriving at the University of Guelph. He received support from Rural Extension Studies and the Ontario Agricultural College to help create a distance education program. Initial funding was provided by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Cameroon government.
It took seven years to train University of Dschang faculty to help facilitate the program and to create courses. Courses were first offered two years ago. Learners come from all 10 provinces in Cameroon and range in age and experience. Students receive printed course packets, and mail in their assignments.
"We started at zero and we have now sold 560 courses," Nji said. One of the ways the university advertises the program is by driving a truck with the words "Agricultural Distance Education Program, University of Dschang" painted on its side. "They do so much with so little, that is something I really appreciate," Janakiram added.
For more information, contact Professor Jana Janakiram, Rural Extension Studies, University of Guelph, (519) 824-4120 Ext. 2241. Professor Ajaga Nji can be reached in Cameroon at (237) 45-13-26 or by fax (237) 45-19-55 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs, (519) 824-4120 Ext. 3338