Preparing for the Baccalaureate

In Cameroon, passing the Baccalaureate Exam is the equivalent of earning a high school diploma in the US. Passing the exam is a ticket to better jobs and a chance to attend a university.

Sylvester, 25, compares notes with a classmate before the beginning of classes. Sylvester hopes to pass his baccalaureate, so that he can become the manager of the construction company were he works.

Sylvester, 25, compares notes with a classmate before the beginning of classes. Sylvester hopes to pass his baccalaureate, so that he can become the manager of the construction company were he works.

Passing the Baccalaureate is not easy. The exam tests general education as well as the specific areas in which the students have studied. For students at Kumbo’s Government Technical High School (GTHS) there is the added challenge of finding instructors to teach the necessary material. In recent years, teachers have been leaving GTHS for higher paying government jobs. Unfortunately, these vacancies have not been filled, leaving many classrooms without a teacher. Since education is a primary focus of the Himalayan Institute’s work in Cameroon, the HIC has worked hard to find holes, such as the ones at GTHS, and fill them with capable staff.

Divine writes a pressure conversion chart on the blackboard.

Divine writes a pressure conversion chart on the blackboard.

The Himalayan Institute’s Nfor Divine is a graduate of GTHS. After passing his baccalaureate, Divine took many jobs around the country working as a cement specialist before he came to work for the Institute. On top of assisting the development of the HIC’s School of Carpentry and Construction program, the HIC sends Divine to volunteer at GTHS a few times a week to help teach a new generation of skilled workers. Because of the shortage of teachers, this sort of help is critical to the students’ success.

Divine does not go easy on his students. He calls students up at random to solve problems in front of the class. Divine knows first hand that it pays to pass the test, so he urges the students to study hard.

Devin, 24, solves a problem in front of the class. He hopes to attend university in Yaoundé and become a civil engineer.

Devin, 24, solves a problem in front of the class. He hopes to attend university in Yaoundé and become a civil engineer.

“If Divine had not come to teach our class, we would have had to find private tutors or try to learn everything on our own,” said Devin, one of Divine’s students. “Now that he is teaching, we have a much better shot at passing the baccalaureate.”

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