Community Resource Learning Center Inauguration
Inauguration of the Community Resource and Learning Center (CRLC) by the US Ambassador, Aubrey Hooks, in Rural Democratic Republic of Congo
"This is inauguration fever" commented one excited staff member of the newly-opened Community Resource and Learning enter (CRLC) in the Vanga Mission, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
After much anticipation, the Community Resource and Learning Center was inaugurated on July 12, 2003. This Center is located in Vanga, a rural community of approximately 3000 people on the banks of the Kwilu River in Bandundu Province.
Among the one hundred invited guests were the US Ambassador to the DRC,
Aubrey Hooks, the Representative of the District Commissioner of Kwilu,
and the Director of USAID/DRC, Tony Gambino. It was a day marked by enthusiastic
celebration and new hope - hope for the Vanga community who struggles daily
to educate its children with inadequately trained teachers and grossly insufficient
Months of preparation by the community and the dot-EDU team --the Education Development Center (EDC), Academy for Educational Development (AED) and The Mitchell Group (TMG) -- went into establishing the CRLC and training its staff. The CRLC houses a training room as well as a computer room equipped with fifteen computers, three printers, two digital cameras, two digital video cameras, two digital audio recorders, a television, an LCD projector, and other multi-media equipment. The computers are networked and connected to the Internet via VSAT technology. A VSAT is a small fixed earth station which provides a communication link required to setup a satellite-based communication network.
Using ICTs to Address Chronic Information Shortages
The Vanga Mission, like other areas in the DRC, has suffered from a steady decline in the education system, lack of paid teachers and new materials, few up-to-date pedagogical methods, and a shortage of copies of the national curriculum. USAID/DRC provided pilot funds to use information communications technologies (ICTs) to address these issues and at the same time identify innovative means of improving the quality of basic education.
USAID/DRC through dot-EDU, its partners, and the Center in Vanga, are also using the Internet to provide access to information to the local hospital that would otherwise not be available.
Community Resource and Learning Center (CRLC) Capacity
The CRLC is run by six staff who were trained trained to manage the telecenter and respond to technical and administrative needs by EDC's YouthLearn, an initiative from EDC's Center for Education, Employment, and Community (CEEC). Subsequent to the face-to-face training, Center staff initiated follow-up online training (www.youthlearn.org/centreformation) which is also being offered and moderated by EDC's YouthLearn initiative.
This Multichannel approach to training provides the staff with ways in which they can render the learning process less passive and more student-centered by exploring local problems and projects with the targeted use of ICTs.
Additionally, the Center is offering ICT and educational services to the community such as training in productivity tools, copying and word-processing services, and research via the internet on sectors of importance to the community like education, small business development, health and agriculture. For example, the Center’s training room is currently being used to conduct literacy training for women. Finally, open door visits are being conducted in Kituba for all community members in order to familiarize them with the Center and its resources.
The dot-EDU activity, now almost one year in operation, has successfully established, inaugurated, and opened the Community Resource and Learning Center. The inauguration of the center was an occasion to celebrate not only the establishment of a physical site for education and professional development, but also the true collaboration and commitment to education of the Vanga community. The CRLC represents a significant step towards improving the quality of education in the DRC.
EDC, under dot-EDU, was awarded the DR Congo ICTs and Education: Community
Learning Centers and Complementary Instructional Strategies in September,
2002 for 12 months (Award No. 623-A-00-02-00114-00 under the dot-EDU Leader
Award No: GDG-A-00-01-00011-00).