The first harvest of a scholarship scheme rolled out two years ago by management of the institution to promote education of persons with special needs, is now visible.
One of the beneficiaries of the scholarship, renowned singer and disability rights activist, Coco Bertin Mowa yesterday brilliantly defended a masters degree thesis in inclusive education.
His research work is the fruit of a fully funded scholarship offered him in 2019 by the president of the board of trustees of the ICT University, endowed Professor, Victor Mbarika.
Coco Bertin’s research focused on: “Social representation of actors and the inclusion learners with special needs in Cameroon: The case of Government Primary School Nkoldongo”.
It was supervised by Dr Njoya Carlos while Professor Batibonack Sariette chaired the panel.
Dr Tazanou Irene and Dr Anne Matouwe served as examiners.
His defence on inclusive education was the first of its kind organised by the ICT University.
Coco Bertin was scored high by jury after an impressive defence of his findings. Thunderous rounds of applause from attendees saluted his presentation during Thursday’s defence.
Coco Bertin told the panel that “The education of persons with special needs is a great priority”.
He was quick to add “We have noted that for years now, Cameroon has been making efforts to ensure inclusive education but in the course of this, there are still some obstacles and difficulties which needs to be tackled”.
He said results obtained from his research could help in tackling the challenges faced in implementing inclusive education in Cameroon.
“The results obtained indicated that there is a necessity to ameliorate the attitude of actors involved in the sector of education for persons with special needs.
Persons with disabilities in general, are suffering from lack of representation. They have continued to be rejected in classrooms” he said stating that “ We are saying that persons with disabilities need to be taken into consideration and have to be place on the same level like their counterparts without disabilities”.
He then recommended that “Teachers needs to be trained to handle cases of persons with special needs. It is extremely important. We can’t talk of inclusive education without proper training of actors involved in the sector”.
He said “It is difficult for teachers who are not trained on issues of disabilities to welcome children with disabilities in their classes because they don’t know how to handle such cases”.
“When a child has a disability, teachers don’t really know what to do because they have not been well trained on handling such situations. My research findings has shown that it is really important to train the teachers to enable them to be able to handle cases of children with disabilities”, she said.
Speaking on the comments of the jury, Coco Bertin noted that “I am really satisfied with the results and all the encouragements I received from the jury. I am grateful to the president of this University who offered us scholarship to do this programme. I am also grateful to my lecturers who have all along been encouraging me. They kept encouragement me, so I want to extend my gratitude to all of them”.
Quizzed on the challenges faced while carrying out his research, Coco Bertin, said it was stony.
“I am a father of a family of five. Being absent from the house because I am working on this research was a big problem. As far as my professional work is concerned, I am manager of an NGO for persons with disabilities but due to this research, I was obliged to be out of the office for a long time to do research on the field. It was really difficult for me”.
“I should also state that while on the field, so many people were not willing to collaborate with me” he concluded.
Enter ICT University
Speaking Thursday on behalf of the Vice Chancellor of the ICT University, Dr Alain Isoh, said inclusive education is one of the priorities of the institution.
“We are trying to be at the forefront of promoting inclusive education. We can’t neglect students with disabilities in the learning process. So our partnership with CJAC, the institute of the blind, I should say is a huge achievement for us. Nobody for whatsoever reason should be excluded from education” Dr Isoh said.
Support to the blind
In 2019, the ICT University said it had donated $75,000 of scholarships to the blind in Cameroon.
The institution disclosed that “In the past five years alone, the ICT University has donated over $2 million US Dollars in full and partial scholarships to young Africans”.
The institution added : “We thank our donors and grant agencies that have provided about half of this funding. We are elated to announce $75,000 in scholarships for the blind in Cameroon (and later other African countries) to pursue studies at the Masters and PhD levels at the ICT University campuses in different countries”.
“We just signed an MOU with Cameroon’s main institute for the blind led by Coco Bertin …by God’s Special Grace, we will be training the next generation of Professors, Department Chairs, Deans and Chancellors that are completely blind”.
Applications for ICT University’s spring semester (March 2023) are ongoing👇.
Application Deadline: March 15, 2023.