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West African Visitors Find Ways to Help Their Country through OSU Program

Growing business relationships and growing baby fish were areas of interest to recent visitors from Cameroon, and they had fresh insights after visiting Oklahoma State University campuses in Stillwater and Okmulgee. HREF="http://www.osuit.edu/news_and_events/image_archive/International/CamaroonVisitors_01.jpg">SIZE="1">PHOTO

Cameroon is a West African country where 70 percent of the population makes its living from agriculture. The visitors represented banking, fisheries and education.

Steve Sulem works for the Cameroon Institute of Agricultural Research and Development, where he specializes in the fisheries program of that institute. At OSU-Stillwater, he found faculty who he thinks will help his country harvest more fish.

“I came to work on a knot of the food chain that leads to fish and I learned exactly what I wanted – how to culture an organism that fish babies need to eat in order to cross the most crucial part of their life, after which they can eat any other food. I found very suitable partners in the department of Zoology at OSU.”

Sulem says he found a way of approaching higher education that he thinks will be very important for his government.

“A lot of people in Cameroon enjoy a high educational level, but we also have a high unemployment level. This is because the education doesn’t always impact marketable skills. OSU Institute of Technology’s ability to relate programs with industry needs has given me some valuable insight and could have far reaching effects in my country.”

Cameroon has one of the best educational systems in Africa. 70% of all children in ages between 6-12 years go to school and the adult literacy rate is 67.9%.

Solomon and the two other visitors were brought to the U.S. by the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Oklahoma State University. The foreign agricultural service of the USDA administers a program called the Borlaug Fellowship Program for Fellows from Cameroon.

The visitors’ host, David Henneberry, Director of International Agricultural Programs, says their visit is part of that program, which was named for Norman Borlaug, the only Nobel Peace Prize recipient in agriculture.

Henneberry says he brought the visitors to OSU Institute of Technology so they could understand the concept of a technical university and see the value that a university education can bring to the industrial development in a country.

“These three individuals were selected because of their positions and influence within Cameroon. I believe when they go back to their country with this knowledge in hand that they will spread the concept and implement some changes within Cameroon that will help improve their educational system.”

Henneberry is Director of International Agricultural Programs at Oklahoma State University. He has international experience in 65 countries and his position involves oversight for the international activities of the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (DASNR) and its faculty.

Abbo Zalalou works for a bank in Douala that specializes in microfinancing. “Our focus is on small business activity and the agricultural activities of the area. I came to the U.S. to learn more about financing agricultural activities.”

Douala is the largest city in Cameroon, and is the location of the country’s largest port and major international airport.

Solomon Anagho, a chemical engineer, teaches in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Dschang in Cameroon. He says being around technicians in the technology programs is exciting.

“The way OSU Institute of Technology’s programs are being run is extremely interesting: the training, the theory, and workshop practice makes every person have the exact concepts of the job for future employment. The link with industry is also something that I can take home. In Cameroon the industries don’t get involved with academic development. The consequence is that the graduates may not be trained properly. If they did have that philosophy it would be a great idea.”