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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Role in Fighting IS Carries Domestic Risks

There are Western concerns Islamic State militants soon may unleash offensive in kingdom that could create upheaval - though nation has solid intel, grip on banking system More

Asian-Americans Enter Public Office in Record Numbers

A steady deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid