The Minister of Higher Education (Minesup), Jacques Fame Ndongo, recently asked Cameroon's academic institutions to switch to distance learning so that students can continue their courses amid the preventive measures taken by the government to curb the spread of the coronavirus. However, according to the coordination of the National Union of Higher Education Teachers (Synes) of the University of Douala, "certain prerequisites" should be met before lecturers upload their courses on the platform created by the government.
"We want to know the conditions under which we must upload our courses online because lecturers are unaware of the content of the contract that binds E-Book [ed.note: name of the platform] and any other partner involved in the project. Specifically, we do not know the fees that will be paid to us in return for the transfer of our rights on those courses, as was mentioned in the previous academic year," writes Desmond Eyango Djombi, coordinator of Synes at the University of Douala, in a correspondence addressed to his colleagues on April 9.
He also indicates that lecturers should make sure that their rights are respected by university administrations. “Several lecturers have not received their research allowance since the fourth quarter of 2019” by the government, he explains. Also, he indicates, university authorities have not yet paid the bonuses and other rights for the said quarter to lecturers. "The university does not offer any guarantee on the security of the website that will host our courses and the use that will be made of it," he adds.
For all these reasons, the union asks its members in Douala to "postpone the delivery of course materials until their demands are satisfied by the university administration."
Let’s note that the Minesup recommended this online educational alternative so that students will not waste this academic year. "Cameroon is experiencing an acceleration, a reinforcement and a consolidation of the digital transformation. This time, the challenge is huge and we must win it for the future of our young ones who would not want to waste this year. We will take up the challenge,” Jacques Fame Ndongo says.