Last year, Julu Swen, DRI Representative in Africa made the rounds delivering e-readers and holding trainings at several partner schools in the Western part of the continent. Everywhere he traveled he discovered that the students relied on the devices as a valuable resource for their studies. Here’s how the project is working in those schools.
Rev. Dr. Jerry P. Kulah, Former Dean – Gbarnga School of Theology (GST)
Rev. Dr. Yatta R. Young, Former Dean – Bishop John G. Innis School of Theology (BIST)
The E-Reader Project’s story in Liberia is unique because, currently, it is the only country whose partner schools give every student and faculty member an e-reader. All are accounted for in the e-reader distribution. Incoming students were the only ones without devices in hand, forced to wait for their e-readers for the time because the latest shipments were still awaiting clearance from the Customs Office.
Gbarnga School of Theology (GST) and the Bishop John G. Innis School of Theology (BIST), graduate theological school at the United Methodist University of Liberia (UMU) have been trained on how to use the devices. In 2018, two training sessions were held at GST and BIST. Occasionally, a school’s project manager will organize “e-reader clinics” giving the students and faculty members a time to discuss one-on-one any questions or problems they have with the device.
Both schools are beneficiaries from the gifts of a U.S. donor.
Rev. Dr. John Pena Auta, Provost – Banyam Theological School
Blessing Nowadays, Project Manager – Banyam Theological School
Swen traveled to Nigeria and spoke with Rev. Dr. John Pena Auta, Provost at Banyam Theological school (BTS). Rev. Auta says the e-readers have relieved the stress around the access to books for both students and the faculty.
The school at Banyam is located in a rural area and with limited Wi-Fi connectivity. According to the school’s Project Manager, Blessing Nowadays, this makes the e-readers the primary resource for books. Rev. Auta believes the e-readers help better prepare his students and faculty for their service in the United Methodist Church and the world. However, the school is still unable to ensure that all students will have their own personal device. This year alone, 84 students applied for one of the 78 e-readers the school received as its latest shipment.
Rev. Alfred Karimu, Dean – Bishop Wenner School of Theology
Rev. Dr. Sidney Cooper, Dean – College of Theology and Management Church Training
Swen then visited to one of the newest partner schools, Bishop Wenner School of Theology, opened in January 2018. The school has already held two e-reader trainings: a first for the faculty and later one for the students after the school had officially opened. Rev. Alfred Karimu, Dean of Bishop Wenner, called the E-Reader Project “the United Methodist Church’s way of making sure that students studying theology in Africa are given the best resources for their academic journey.”
Charles M.S. Carew, a student at Bishop Wenner, who spoke on behalf of his classmates, said the e-readers go a long way in filling the gap in their education. They rely on the devices to save them the cost of searching for books.
The E-Readers for Theological Education initiative is a partnership with Higher Education and Ministry and Discipleship Ministries and is committed to providing e-libraries on e-readers with important theological texts to the libraries of United Methodist-related and sponsored theological schools in Africa and the Philippines. Learn more about the E-Reader project and donate today