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

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by a joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid