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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora