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Taking stock and paving the way forward

Review of the digital payment process, advancement of Academy project, and the improvement of the video surveillance system in schools were top on the agenda.

The Africa’s telecommunications giant and the Cameroon’s Ministry of Secondary Education reviewed their long-standing partnership during an audience held in the Conference room of the Ministry of Secondary Education on Thursday, 21 January 2021.

The progress meeting chaired by Prof Nalova Lyonga, Minister of Secondary Education, in the presence of Stephen Blewett, CEO of MTN-Cameroon, was an opportunity for both institutions to make an appraisal of their partnership and brainstorm on new avenues.

While acknowledging the positive yields of the venture with MTN-Cameroon in improving Cameroon’s Secondary Education system, the Minister of Secondary Education, however underscored some loopholes that needed to be filled. These include the hacking of the digital payment process, reluctance of schools to connect to the Academy project.

Regarding the digital payment process, it happens that some crooks move around schools claiming to be MTN agents sent to collect school fees which they never actually transfer to the operator. Reacting to this complaint, MTN team pledged to improve and streamline the authentication process of their stakeholders in the digital payment process of school fees, and come up with a list of authorised agents which will be made available to schools authorities. New strategies will equally be crafted to deter schools from dodging payment via MTN Mobile Money (MoMo).

As regards the reluctance observed from school authorities to upload school data onto the Academy project platform, MTN team brought it to the attention of the Minister that, school authorities requested a formal authorisation from the Minister in order to carry on with the process. Both parties agreed to drive the project per region with the oversight of officials from the Ministry.

As for the way forward, MTN-Cameroon brought along three major proposals which were welcomed by the Minister. One is about the cost-effective, customizable and cloud-based video surveillance system developed by MTN-Cameroon. This system allows for remote video surveillance and monitoring of buildings, homes and schools alike, with direct remote interaction with people on the field. The solution operates on usual connectivity bundles offered by MTN as well as on monthly subscription.

The other proposal is the commitment by MTN to establish a mechanism with some microfinance institutions to allow upfront payment of tuition fees, giving parents the possibility to refund the money by instalments. This, not only will reduce the school dropout rate, but will also permit schools to advance their projects faster as the money will be available on time.

The last offer concerns the establishment of cash-free campuses by way of refillable cash cards linked to an MTN MoMo account. Ultimately, this will limit cash flows within the school milieu, thus curbing all sort of illegal transactions in schools.

Both parties expressed satisfaction with what has been achieved so far and vowed to reinforce their partnership to advance Cameroon’s Secondary Education.

A. Ngidjol, Celcom/MINESEC

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