Education in Africa in the time of the Coronavirus

8 May 2020      

Abriendo Caminos Foundation, GSD Foundation and the GSD Educational Community, as a whole, have a strong commitment to education in social and environmental values. In this sense, participation in social projects aimed at the people most in need is a fundamental pillar of the GSD pedagogical project, and one example is the effort developed at GSD École Internationale au Cameroon. The school opened almost two years ago in the Pouma region that has had to suspend face-to-face activity by the pandemic, however, the pedagogical activity continues thanks to the local teachers and supervision from Spain, while working on the maintenance of the center, essential for local conditions.

The global coronavirus pandemic has also forced the GSD school in Cameroon to close to new order, but work continues to maintain education as best as possible and meet the needs of the GSD Educational Community in the African country. GSD continues to have teachers, whose work is essential. Teachers remain on the payroll, thanks to Abriendo Caminos Foundation and GSD Foundation, working with the greatest motivation to solve this difficult social context, using the means and tools available to help families in the education of the children of the center.

In addition, the maintenance of school facilities is also very important to resume the day-to-day school in Pouma, where GSD'ecole Internationale au Cameroon was inaugurated almost two years ago.

Education and progress in Cameroon: "Wise people are prone to adaptability." (Michel de Montaigne)

Although we do not always perceive it, our life is always subject to change, which in these times we feel more than ever. In Africa, where life can be radically different every day, they are used to reinventing themselves because of lack of resources and instability.

The GSD École Internationale au Cameroon school, which has given an opportunity for education and progress to a forgotten population, has been closed since the end of March because of the global pandemic situation that has also affected this country. Despite the rudimentary technological possibilities of the area, our teachers have not stopped attending to and taking care of the learning of our students. The rural environment and much lax confinement than in the West allow our teachers to approach families's homes on time to follow up on school, deliver and collect homework or supervise work, always with the necessary security measures. When connections make it possible, they use the phone to provide guidance to our students.

In a culture of oral tradition, word of mouth also works in this situation and tasks and duties are passed from family to family as a chain work, which permeates the environment with solidarity and cooperative values.

Constant tracking from GSD. From GSD Spain they are constantly follow up on this complex situation, giving guidelines for our students to be accompanied in this time and reinforce certain basic contents, exercise in the realization of crafts or work psychomotricity with music and dance so typical of the environment. From the educational institutions of Cameroon it is planned that the school year will be extended in July and, in any case, we will propose that, at the beginning of the next course, the essential contents will be reviewed so that we can continue to progress without leaving anyone behind.

The cooperation of the whole community and the environment has been, since the beginning, an essential element to develop our project. We have fostered and cared for relationships of trust and mutual collaboration with hospitals, pharmacies, vocational schools that provide us with various materials, schools, church, etc.

At the beginning of this course, we created an association of parents who collaborate and help in the development of the center, organizing activities on days indicated in the school calendar, managing materials, giving some talks about their professions or collaborating with the school's orchard: a small land ceded by the Church, which fulfills a pedagogical function with our students, but also provides fresh and natural vegetables: Quid pro quo.

Thanks to the local institutions. We must say that we have the sincere support of the Diocese of Edea and the local authorities, who take pride care of the school so that at the moment it is not vulnerable of the need of others and deterioration, typical of other environments in Africa in situations of abandonment and insecurity when resources are scarce or poorly distributed.

Abriendo Caminos Foundation, initiator and promoter of the project, alongside with GSD Foundation, which counts, among other resources, the donations of the families of our students and the solidarity activities carried out throughout each course, continue to make the effort to maintain the payment of the payroll and social insurance of Cameroonian workers, who in a country with no or little social protection, would be stranded at the mercy of the complex circumstances and would be difficult to maintain their subsequent commitment.

We must also retain, as a symbolic capital of great value, the investment in training courses to our Cameroonian teachers, which we have carried out during these years and who have served to implement models of work and pedagogical innovation typical of our GSD models in Spain and Costa Rica, such as cooperative learning, emotional intelligence, literacy, multiple intelligences, psychomotorism through chess... We have always believed that we should gradually encourage the project to be managed autonomously in the future and this remains our long-term goal.

Gratitude to families. It should be noted that the families of Cameroonian students also continue to make their efforts to pay the fees for the scholarships that were allocated in December. Since the beginning we have considered as essential elements the formation, inter-cooperation and promotion of interest in the community, showing the classic phrase that tells us that "to educate, the whole tribe is needed" and understanding education as a transversal task to different social agents and as the basis of a better society.

These cooperative values, together with social justice, are the main elements that move our actions, adapted to the environment and circumstances, of a solidarity project that today more than ever seems essential to maintain with determination, solidarity and optimism.

GSD, education and social responsibility. GSD is a socially responsible company with a commitment to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations at its 2015 General Assembly.

This is how the GSD Cameroon project emerged, which aims to help the development of a rural region in Edea by operating in a place with a school deficit such as the Pouma region. GSD also contributes to transforming society by forming and creating quality indigenous employment that promotes economic development. Currently, the center has 15 employees and participates in various interest groups, among which are the Diocese of Edea, Abriendo Caminos Foundation, GSD Cooperative and the GSD Foundation.

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