Eugénie Eyeang. Gabon


20/05/2020

Eugénie Eyeang is Lecturer in Didactics of Languages  at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Libreville and director of the Centre for Applied Research in the Arts  and Languages (CRAAL)  She took an active part in the first Congress of African Hispanic Women organized by the Women for Africa Foundation in 2014 in Abidjan.

She presents an interesting study on how to organize teaching in times of lockdown.

How to approach with online education when only two of ten students have a computer and only one has Internet at home

Eugenie Eyean, GabónThe creation of a distance learning platform:

From TICE Gabon (WhatsApp) to ENUGA (ecolnumerique.moodlecloud.com)

The global coronavirus pandemic has changed the lives of thousands of people around the world. Their customs and habits are no longer the same. Sociological relationships have changed. The world of education is almost unemployed, from kindergarten to higher; since governments decided to close schools, institutes and universities. This situation has caused additional stress in the world of education and school administration since solutions must be found to ensure pedagogical continuity. This is what prompted us to create a group of exchanges by WhatsApp with teachers interested in digital activities, and wishing to develop them first for themselves, during this period of confinement.

The context

In Gabon, most educational activities are carried out face-to-face. Distance or online training is poorly developed. There are structures such as FUNIBER (Ibero-American University Foundation), AUF (Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie) or SKILLS (Higher School) specializing in online training. But faced with the COVID19 health crisis, there is no modus operandi planned to ensure educational continuity. However, students cannot stay at home without doing anything, while waiting for the “end of the nightmare”. The first to offer online platforms are private schools and institutes, in which the French lycée Blaise Pascal. At the start, the parents of the students of this high school received messages by Whatsapp which stipulated that the children will receive homework and take lessons via ZOOM, Google Meet, TeamLink, etc. To effectively follow these lessons, parents had to have some computer skills, have a home Internet connection (of good quality), have computers or smartphones.

While parents (teachers from the École Normale Supérieure or universities) share these experiences with their children, they also wonder how to solve the problem of digital illiteracy that is theirs. During the same period, being part of a WhatsApp group bringing together African researchers, we felt the need to create a specific group for the exchange of information related to distance learning. This is how the WhatsApp TICE Africa group was created, with the help of colleague Ana Gainza (Public University of Navarre, UPNA) on March 25, 2020, who, from Navarre, continues his courses at a distance, despite the pandemic. The aim is to share digital experiences and provide help to those who have difficulties in this area. In each African country, the ministerial authorities for national education and higher education plead for pedagogical continuity through different media (TV, Radio, Internet, etc.).

Edified by all this information, I decided to create the WhatsApp group “TICE Gabon” in Gabon, which was followed by the creation of a distance learning platform (ENUGA: ecolnumerique.moodlecloud.com). We started with volunteers, that is, teacher-researchers and others from various disciplines from universities, colleges and inspectors from primary schools. Then we integrate specialists from TICE.

Problem and field

The global health crisis caused by the coronavirus has as a consequence today the decision of containment and the taking of drastic measures by the States around the world: closing of the air, land and maritime borders, closings of certain companies, the stop of some jobs, and finally the closure of schools. But as French Minister of Education Jean Michel Blanquer said, “the schools are closed, but the classes are continuing.” Educational continuity must therefore be ensured through online education. It is also the position of the Gabonese authorities who in a circular of March 16, 2020 invited teachers to reflect on strategies that can avoid a sleepless year. However, in education, from primary to higher education, opinions are divided, since the very term “online education” remains very vague.

Our recent surveys of students and teachers show that 2 out of 10 students have 1 computer and 1 student has a computer and an internet connection at home. On the teachers’ side, if 6 out of 10 have personal computers, only 3 have an internet connection at home. Under these conditions, what to do to validate this academic and school year 2019-2020? How to set up online education in Gabon and with what supports?

I will share here the actions carried out and the questions asked by the members of the group in the exchanges by WhatsApp and Skype.

Completed actions

  1. Creation of a WhastApp group called TICE Gabon on April 2, 2020
  2. Definition of the group’s objectives
  3. Production of summary documents on the definition and organization of online education
  4. Sending of PDF and audio files dealing with online education
  5. Creation of a platform (Moodle) for a visual representation of how online courses work. Platform name: ENUGA (Digital school in Gabon)
  6. Insertion of members to the platform
  7. Sending of a doodle for the programming of the 1st meeting of ENUGA
  8. Work on the structure of the ENUGA platform Questions from the members of ENUGA

 Member reactions to the project

  1. Hilaire B.: The problem of the feasibility of online education in our context with the confinement of the student community. How to equip students and teachers with computers? Could Android phones be a lead? How to finance the internet connection?
  2. Maurice N. E.: Today, we know that it is a question of catching up with our year thanks to ICT, but what exactly do we have to do to reach this goal? Do we have the means necessary for our ambitions or should we circumscribe the objectives taking into account our real possibilities?
  3. Elza K.: Does our school have the necessary tools for integrating e-learning or distance learning? How to equip our school with technology tools? Finally, how can we rethink the African and Gabonese schools, particularly in these times of abstinence or of a global pandemic?
  4. Eugenie E.: How do we do with the students if I only have WhastApp?
  5. Mireille: How to avoid social inequalities concerning the digital divide, because teachers as students, many are disconnected?
  6. Raymonde: Insist on the relevant possibilities for online education in Gabon.

Methodology of work

  1. Take stock of the state of the literature on the issue of distance education. Note that pedagogical continuity will appear as an exception here. In this state of the question, it will mainly be a question of examining the advantages and disadvantages of distance education.
  2. Take stock of the issue of communication channels: Internet, TV, Radio.
  3. Take stock of the issue of collaborative tools in accordance with the three channels mentioned. 4. Take stock of the case of Gabon. What should we do, what can we do in relation to our cultural specificity and our socio-economic constraints?
  4. Address the issue of choice or arbitration. Can we do everything? Should we not make trade-offs in relation to this period of educational breakdown? Shouldn’t priority be given to exam classes?
  5. The merits of the project: This is where the game becomes interesting for us experts in the matter. The added value that we could bring to institutions lies in the pragmatic offer that we have designed and decided + supported by the recommendations.

Procedures

  1. Survey carried out on the public present.
  2. Choice of tool and training procedures.
  3. Training of work teams and training around ICT specialists for online courses.
  4. Familiarization with the Moodle tool.

5.Production of capsules…

  1. Publications.

In conclusion

We continue to work and take advantage of the confinement times to improve our use of these new technologies. We thank our colleagues Maurice N. Engohan, Anasthasie Obono M. (ENS, Libreville), Mireille Essono E. (ENS, Libreville) and Raymonde Moussavou (ENS, Libreville) and others (UOB: Omar Bongo University, Libreville; CPP : Center for pedagogical improvement, Libreville, Dakar, etc.), for training and setting up arrangements and the production of “explanatory capsules” to facilitate understanding of the processes. Some colleagues already teach distance courses, based on the basics that we have given and can share with others, this experience of TICE Gabon and ENUGA. In addition, a report will be published and a collective work coordinated by Anasthasie Obono M. and Robert Angoué N. is in progress. This is the modest contribution we can make to institutions or colleagues, collectively or individually, during this period of health crisis linked to the coronavirus covid 19.

 

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