Digital Records Preservation Training for Practitioners in Yaoundé, Cameroon

Margaret Crockett and Basma Makhlouf Shabou | 8 January 2019

Digital Records Preservation Training for Practitioners in Yaoundé, Cameroon 29-30 November 2018, copyright ICA

ICA’s Africa Programme, in association with the Training Programme recently delivered a two-day digital records preservation training course to 93 participants.

The overall goals of the course were to enable participants to understand the main challenges of digital record-keeping, to identify the characteristics of digital records and to begin to manage digital records appropriately in a cost-effective way. The course was delivered immediately after ICA’s first ever Annual Conference in the Cameroonian capital at the Palais de Congrés. Participants, who were all practitioners of archives and records management, paid a small registration fee to cover catering and administration. Those who attended the full two days received a certificate of attendance.

The first day covered an introduction to digital records in the information society and a discussion of digital records as evidence, their authenticity and reliability. There was a presentation on the goals and benefits of information audits and how to set up an information asset register and a practical session on profiling files using freeware. Day two started with an examination of metadata, its role and importance in managing digital records and went on to discuss digital preservation terminology and concepts. The final session gave participants the chance to workshop their own digital preservation strategies for low resource environments. Throughout the course there were activities and exercises to allow participants to discuss and practice the concepts and techniques around managing digital records. At the end of the course all participants were sent supporting materials such as powerpoint presentations, background notes and useful resources.

Participant evaluations rated the training very highly, with the majority of sessions scoring good or excellent and the majority of participants indicating that they had achieved all of the learning outcomes. Comments included:

  • Great initiative, to be continued and an on-line curriculum to be developed
  • What I gained from the course is very important
  • I advise more training of this nature
  • It must be continued
  • We would love to have the detailed course so that we can do a lot of follow-up
  • I discovered many concepts and methods such as information audit, information assets register
  • I really appreciate the expertise of trainers
  • Looking forward to applying the methods I learned in my office

A number of participants expressed the view that the training should have been more detailed, practical and lasted longer.

The ICA trainers and facilitators were Basma Makhlouf (Information sciences department, HEG-HES SO), Alain Dubois (Archives State of Wallis), Cécile Turner (Information sciences department, HEG-HES SO), Céline Fernandez (ICA Community Manager), Roman Lescano (ICA Community Manager), James Lowry (University of Liverpool & Secretary ICA Africa Programme), Viviane Hessami (University of Monash) and Margaret Crockett (ICA Training Officer).

Alain Dubois

Cécile Turner

Viviane Frings-Hessami

There were two classes, one for French speakers with 64 people from 8 African countries and the other for English speakers which had 28 participants from 7 African countries and one person from Sri Lanka. In all there were 48 Cameroonians and a total of 19 countries represented (Bénin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Gambia, Kenya, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Zambia, Zimbabwe).

The course was based on both the Africa Programme Digital Record-keeping curriculum development training courses developed under James Lowry’s leadership and the archival courses developed by Information sciences department at Geneva School of Business Administration in Switzerland. Plans are already underway to re-purpose the training for delivery as online learning via ICA’s new Learning management System.