Fifteen bright, hardworking students from CEM Aline Sitoé Diatta, a middle school in Oussouye, Senegal, completed a four-week course they named, Oussouye Connect.
Nayah Solutions, in collaboration with USAID/EPQ and Dr. Christelle Scharff of MobileSenegal sponsored the course, which focused on the effective use of social media, how to use Google Maps, and skill development in collaboration and public speaking.
The students were required to work in teams to create Facebook pages for school activities, such as the computing club and student government. They learned how to use social media for marketing campaigns and professional networking. The students also learned about appropriate behavior online and ways to protect their identity online. Nelson Menendez, the course trainer, lectured on technical topics each week. After the lecture, a mentor assigned to each team would reinforce course content and coach the students in collaboration skills.
The students were required to present their work to their parents and the community at the conclusion of the course. As a result, the mentors (Oumou Keita, Charles Sagna, Diéré Diedhiou, Ismaila Dialla, and Martial Adoye) worked extensively with the students to improve their presentation skills.
At the beginning of the course, the students were extremely shy. With hard work and great coaching from the mentors, their presentation skills improved dramatically by the final presentation, where they described the purpose of their Facebook page and how they collaborated to create them. The audience of family and local dignitaries, such as the mayor and deputy prefect, expressed their support and pride for the students. Yves Manga, the middle school principal also expressed his thanks to all the program organizers and pledged to expand the program for other students in the area.