Over 1,500 children from seven schools in poor neighbourhoods of Yaoundé, capital of the central African country of Cameroon, receive free online mathematics and computer coding lessons through their library’s mobile education service.
Launched in 2016, the mobile education service is offered by the community library, ‘Cercle de lecture et d’animation culturelle’, known across the city by its short name, CLAC.
The interactive and fun online mathematics classes, which include video lessons and exercises, were developed by the Khan Academy, a not-for-profit organization that provides free content to support learning in school subjects.
The library introduced the maths classes in 2013 with support from Libraries Without Borders. Lessons took place in the library building, which has computers for free public access, in the neighbourhood of Mimboman. The lessons were popular - and they worked: an assessment conducted in 2013/14 found that children from Yaoundé primary schools who took part in the maths lessons scored an average 13.8% better than children who did not take the classes. This inspired a desire to expand their reach.
A MOBILE LIBRARY WITH MOBILE TECHNOLOGY
Then, in 2016, CLAC was able to purchase a van. Now the mobile library - known as Street-CLAC - takes laptop and tablet computers, books and other resources, to schools in other parts of the city, and seven schools are receiving classes.
In addition to maths, librarians now offer computer coding classes. Using the free software, Scratch, the children are taught how to programme animations and create interactive stories and videos.
JOB-SEEKING AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP TRAINING FOR ADULTS
After school hours, the mobile library travels across the city to help address another challenge: unemployment. An estimated 30% of working-age people in Yaoundé are unemployed, and cannot afford internet access or training.
The mobile library stops in different locations and offers free ICT, job-seeking and entrepreneurship training. The library is currently working intensively with 100 unemployed people; some looking for jobs, others developing ideas for internet-based businesses.
“We can be proud of this opportunity that CLAC provides. I attended a free seminar for entrepreneurs, where I learnt how to start a solid project. We can also rejoice in the library’s computer training that enable us to take full advantage of available opportunities,” Cedric Herve Lobe Belengue, a young entrepreneur told the library.
CLAC INSPIRES GOVERNMENT TO START MOBILE LIBRARY
CLAC’s mobile library service has attracted attention. “Inspired by Street-CLAC, the Ministry of Culture has approached CLAC and Libraries Without Borders for help in starting a mobile library service that will be run by the Ministry of Culture, as there are no public libraries in Yaoundé. We are proud to say that our example has led to the birth of our country’s second mobile library,” said Charles Kamdem Poeghela, director of the library.
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