Stories from Goma. Let’s continue to overcome educational barriers!

Over 13,000 people took part in the Cerebral Palsy MOOC which took place in September this year. The following is a piece of work written by some of the participants of the course who live in the DR Congo. It is a fantastic reflection. It highlights the impact of Physiopedia courses on those working in developing areas of the globe.

In a country like the Democratic Republic of the Congo access to the web is definitely a challenge. Access to training possibilities, specialized courses and evidence based practices even more.

The objective of the MOOC CP was to make knowledge about CP children as much as possible available to professionals all around the world, including especially those living in middle-low income countries.

Having this in mind we tried to make this precious knowledge available to a group of 5 physiotherapists working in the pediatric department of Shirika la Umoja rehabilitation Centre of Goma, which covers needs of a very large population in the Nord Kivu, a region in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The course took place at the ICRC delegation of Goma, with the support of 2 ICRC physiotherapists who organized the setting and the materials and facilitated the access to the online material, trying to summarize the content according to their needs and their level, given the amount of interesting resources available. The course lasted for 6 weeks and took place on average twice a week for 1h30’ for a total of 16h30’.

Most of the physiotherapist attending never worked with a portable computer; a very basic training has been done to allow them to independently access the resources, to move from page to page and to deepen the different topics according to their personal interests. The language has also been quite a challenge since French is the second language after the Swahili language, spoken by the Congolese population.  What a chance to have the Physiopedia pages which we were able to translate in French using  Google; since this has not been possible for the videos and the online books chapters.

It was interesting to see how the participants familiarized with the online material and the course website itself. Despite at the beginning they asked for more “frontal lessons” and explications, they soon realized how different and interesting a MOOC course can be: more than a book, more than a power point presentation, more than a case study. They discovered how powerful it can be to have the freedom to search and make resources available to oneself according the own interest, curiosity, needs.

Many discussions raised during the course, a lot of questions were put on the table and it really became an occasion to share experiences, ideas, to talk about specific cases, but also about difficulties and frustrations of the daily work with IMC children. Availability of adapted rehabilitation material for instance is quite a big challenge in Congo:  the video about simple construction of assistive devices with local material was such a surprise for them!

To see an Afghan child with CP having the same features of a Congolese child with CP being treated by their colleagues, made them ingenuously laugh but realize at the same time that they are not alone in the difficult but beautiful job of the rehabilitation of children with CP.

Thank you very much to those in Goma for writing this. Let us know what you all think via social media.