Delays in president’s laptops-for-students project

As the end of the university year approaches, a controversial promise by President Paul Biya more than a year ago to give students 500,000 Chinese laptops has failed to materialise.

Regular students who were enrolled for the 2016-17 year are eligible for the scheme, but students who had registered found their names had not yet been listed to receive a computer, reported of Brussels.

Biya made the promise to provide the 500,000 Chinese laptops to students in February 2016, and in July the higher education minister Jacques Fame Ndongo signed an agreement to establish the e-national higher education network with the Chinese company Sichuan Telecom Construction Engineering, to generalise the use of ICTs by Cameroonian students, reported

Under the project students would be provided with the computers, at a cost of CFA75 billion (US$127.5 million), and nine digital development university centres would be built in each of the country’s eight universities and in the Cameroon-Congo Interstate University in Sangmélima to set up an e-learning university system and network.

Following the deal there was apparently little progress until a meeting chaired by Ndongo took place in April to evaluate the effectiveness of the project. This confirmed that regular students at the country’s universities and private higher education institutes who were enrolled for the 2016-17 year would be eligible for the scheme.

A process would take place in which the universities would compile national biometric records of students, from which those eligible for the laptops would be drawn. According to the higher education ministry, all regular students who were duly enrolled, had paid their fees and were registered in these national lists, would benefit from the president’s gift, reported

But delays look set to continue. A ministry official told “This affair is complicated. We are still waiting for the lists to be delivered to us. And in our turn we shall send them to the committee in charge of distributing these computers. But we are still a long way from the end of the tunnel, because even at university level there is still a big delay.”

Students at Yaoundé University confirmed to they had not yet been approached about such a census. They were astonished to hear they had been told students without a national identity card should obtain one.

Further confusion emerged at Yaoundé university where a list of 15,532 potential laptop beneficiaries was apparently incomplete, with students who should have been eligible complaining they were not on it, reported

Biya’s laptop project drew accusations of state corruption last year, with critics questioning where the money to pay for it was coming from at a time when the country was bogged down in debt.

This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.