Cecil Nutakor of E- Campus: From a straight F student to world-class innovator
"By the help of some professors we discovered that no matter how much learning material you consume, you can only remember 10% of what you read, 20% of what you hear, 30% of what you see 50% of what you see and hear, 75% of what you practice or do and 95% of what you teach to others."
Born to a highly educated architect father and a anaesthetic nurse mother, Cecil had high academic expectations to meet, and he did meet them in primary school.
Young Cecil enjoyed every bit of school in primary school, school was fun, and it showed in his academic performance. He was a bubbly, enthusiastic boy who did all the poetry recitals, drama and choreography.
But all these will change as he enters Junior High School.
All of a sudden, school became very serious, with loads and loads of theory to memorize. Cecil was punished for almost everything he got wrong, he was supposed to memorize his notes effectively and reproduce them accurately during examinations. There was no longer room to make mistakes.
And poor Cecil found himself hating school more and more as time went by, until he hit rock- bottom- he was bottom of the class.
Mr. and Mrs. Nutakor, his parents, will not have it. They compounded Cecil's problems mounting pressure on him to excel. They got extra classes teachers upon classes teacher, who also heaped their own pressure on the young adolescent to memorize text, and pass examinations, but he had checked out.
Cecil eventually finished Junior High School and got admitted to Senior High School. He was much older now, and perhaps could withstand the pressure, or so he thought. His parents felt the fresh start will help their child get back to his bright academic days. But this was not to be.
Cecil failed his Senior High School Certificate Examinations( SSCE) with straight Fs, and gave up completely after his second retake of the exams. He had completely given up on tertiary education,and a hope of a successful future.
" My family did not make it any easier on me. I was the black sheep of the family. I would not eat dinner with the family. I was the first child, and a lot was expected of me. I was a disappointment to my family."
This was a difficult time for the young man. But it became an experience from which a great business idea will evolve. He came to the realization that the teaching and learning method applied in Ghana's educational system, especially at the Junior and Senior High levels was faulty. Whereas the atmosphere in primary school was more relaxed playful and conducive, Junior and Senior High schools were harsh.
" Through all this I didn't know what the problem was, but I knew I didn't like school. I enjoyed primary school. The atmosphere was friendly. We were learning through play. I was okay to make mistakes. But in Junior High School, everything changed. You dared not make a mistake." he narrates.
It wasn't pleasant. It was such that you are coming to school, and a few meters away from campus and you are frightened because there will be early money mental, where you will probably lashed on your back for getting the question wrong."
Senior High was worse. " So I stopped going to school at some point, so obviously I failed".
It was now clear to Cecil that school had to be fun, and the methods of learning improved. That was how eCampus was born.
eCampus uses the psychological educational method of Read, Listen, Watch, Learn, Practice, Discuss to provide a practical augmentative resource to the classroom.
" Between 2001 and 2003 was when computers were now penetrating the Ghanaian market, and I saw an opportunity to use them. I begged my mother to buy me a computer, and she got me a compaq."
"So we started by putting past questions on diskets. This was an important resource for students who were preparing for exams."
However, diskets were gradually getting outmoded and eCampus needed to innovate. By this time Cecil's interest in computers had grown to an extent where he had a great command over Linux Operating Systems and Networking which earned him an endorsement from the president of the Republic at the time, John Agyekum Kufour and a scholarship to do a degree program in Business Administration at the Regeant University.
In order to innovate from diskets, however, Cecil started considering running eCampus on HTML, PHP, and now a full- blown app. But certainly, eCampus was not about past questions anymore, it was now a full- fledged educational program built on the scientific basis of appealing to the learners listening, visual, practice and discussion.
" By the help of some professors we discovered that no matter how much learning material you consume, you can only remember 10% of what you read, 20% of what you hear, 30% of what you both see 50% of what you see and hear, 75% of what you practice or do and 95% of what you teach to others."
This is how the brain learns, and that's the strategy with which all courses on eCampus are taught. And even though it is not supposed to replace the traditional classroom, it blocks the loopholes in the educational systems of the developing countries like Ghana and many in Africa and South East Asia.
Courses taught on eCampus range from general subjects like Mathematics, English, Science, Economics amongst others to specialized professional courses like Accounting, Nursing etc.
Cecil Nutakor's story is that of great innovation and passion and a zeal to succeed. He gives to hope to many Ghanaian and African students, who are finding it difficult to fit in the current educational system.
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