News / Africa

    Cameroon Struggles With Universal Education

    Children are seen playing with their teachers in the yard of a Catholic school in Blangoua, northern Cameroon, in this March 1, 2013, file photo.Children are seen playing with their teachers in the yard of a Catholic school in Blangoua, northern Cameroon, in this March 1, 2013, file photo.
    x
    Children are seen playing with their teachers in the yard of a Catholic school in Blangoua, northern Cameroon, in this March 1, 2013, file photo.
    Children are seen playing with their teachers in the yard of a Catholic school in Blangoua, northern Cameroon, in this March 1, 2013, file photo.
    It has been 13 years since Cameroon instituted free primary education to meet one of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals.  But the program has led to a shortage of funds to pay teachers and many are refusing to teach or have abandoned their schools, despite threats of dismissal from the government.

    Many teachers at a Catholic school called College de la Retreat in the heart of Yaounde are returning.  Classes began this week in schools around Cameroon for the 2013-2014 school year.

    Most schoolgoers like Blandine Mbassi told VOA they are happy to return.  The nine-year-old class-six pupil, whose dream is to become a medical doctor, said they had their first lectures in some subjects. "Mathematics, French, English, science.  I want to be a doctor," Mbassi said.

    But while classes have begun in the cities, it is not the same situation in the country's hinterlands.  There, education officials are still calling on instructors to return to school to teach.

    An education official in Cameroon's South West Region, Francis Ngundu, sounded this warning note to absentee teachers. "We are sending echoes of warnings to those teachers because it is government's intention to make education accessible to as many people as possible," Ngundu stated.

    Many of the teachers have simply neglected such calls for them to resume.  Letuma Prudence, a primary school teacher, was transferred to a village called Koza in the far north of Cameroon, 1,300 kilometers from her home town of Bamenda in the northwest.  Prudence says she worked in Koza for a year without getting paid.

    "In that village, there is no light, no water.  They stay in thatched houses and I had been there for one academic year, no salary, nothing.  Now at my age I am begging from my brothers and sisters," she explanned. "I do not think I will go back."

    Lacking funds

    Thirteen years ago, Cameroon's government instituted free primary education as part of efforts to increase school attendance and meet the Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education.  But this led to a drastic reduction of funds for basic necessities, because the payment of school fees was suspended.

    The government took it upon itself to provide the basic school needs, in an initiative called Minimum Package.  But the funds are just too minimal as confirmed by Sofa Stanislos, mayor of a locality called Tubah. "Last year, 2012, one classroom had only about four packets of chalk.  The headmaster can not use four packets of chalk in a class for one year.  It is grossly insufficient," Stanislos siad.

    In a bid to supply growing school needs and pay teachers, parents have decided to institute the payment of compulsory levies before any child is admitted in government schools.

    Parent Killian Nsom said that with such levies, education can not be said to be free in Cameroon. Why should the government tell us that they are operating free government schools and yet we still spend fabulous sums of money?  We pay school fees," Nsom explained. "The government has not furnished us with teachers."

    VOA asked the secretary-general in Cameroon's ministry of basic education, Leke Tambo, if the imposition of such levies is not a hindrance to the policy of free primary education?

    "The law of education of 1998 that is currently being applied says that education is a responsibility of the state and the community, because it is difficult for the state alone to do everything alone concerning the delivery of education," Tambo responded.

    Last year's monitoring report for the Millennium Development Goals said progress is being made towards increasing universal education throughout the world.

    But the goal remains elusive in sub-Saharan Africa, the globe's poorest region.  Two years before a 2015 deadline, observers in Cameroon note that despite the government's efforts, the school attendance rate is barely 65 percent.

    You May Like

    Leaving Scalia Replacement to 2017 Would Mean Unusually Long Vacancy

    History of high court shows Obama not in unique situation during final year of presidency

    US Fact Checkers Debunk Some Republican Candidate Claims 

    Slim evidence for several claims made by Republican presidential candidates at their last debate ahead of next Saturday's key nominating election in South Carolina

    Uganda Presidential Debate a Small Victory for Democracy

    In homes and bars across country, Ugandans were fixated on their screens as eight political candidates running for president took part in national debate

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.