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Catholic Bishops Rebuke Gov’t For Intransigence, Warn Against Ostrich Politics 

By Isidore Abah

BAPEC Bishops pose for photograph after declaration

BAPEC Bishops pose for photograph after declaration

The Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda, BAPEC, have expressed concerns over the strike action undertaken by Anglophone Teachers’ Trade Unions.

According to them, the strike action has given room to some disgruntled Cameroonians to engage in public demonstrations, which has degenerated into violence, leading to the destruction of property and the loss of life in the cities of Bamenda and Buea.

The Bishops have therefore rebuked the Government, teachers and the lawyers of intransigence to dialogue.

“We regret the impasse in which we now find ourselves, because of an apparent intransigence on the part of the leaders… and the fact that other groups with different objectives are exploiting the situation.”

According to members of BAPEC, they cannot be indifferent to the strike action taking place in the educational and legal sectors within the territorial circumscription of the Northwest and Southwest Regions.

“We recognise the difficulties such a state of affairs brings to the English-Speaking Regions in particular and to the integrity of our country in general.

Our citizens are living in a state of anxiety, wondering what will become of our society and the children so grossly affected by the strike action.

A society that does not educate its youth puts into question the very survival of its future and prosperity, The high stakes situation we are living through now calls for concerted effort of all and sundry to redress the challenges facing our educational system…”

The Bishops said they have over the years defended the English-Speaking Subsystem of Education by addressing letters to the Government.

“We stand for truth, justice, and peace and for an educational system based on ethical, moral and religious values.

That is why we clearly understand the rights of the teachers in making their voices heard and in protesting about all that they consider is going wrong in the English-Speaking Subsystem of Education in Cameroon.

The Social Doctrine of the Church approves strike actions as a last resort to establish dialogue in order to settle industrial disputes and guarantee social justice.”

According to BAPEC, understanding the English Subsystem of Education in Cameroon and protecting it is a matter of respecting, protecting and promoting the cultural identity of English-Speaking Cameroonians and the values which are inherent and embedded in their culture.

“Without this educational subsystem, we can never ever talk of Anglophone Cameroon anymore. It is important to respect the conventions that bind us together as a people.

The bicultural nature of our country, which enriches our diversity, should be a treasured commodity that guides our interaction with each other as children of the same fatherland.

It is, therefore, expedient that in the evolution of our country as a nation, such tenets of its Constitution are respected so as to preserve the peace and harmony of our society.”

The Prelates lauded the effort of Government in trying to break the stalemate with the teachers for a solution to be sought.

But they were quick to add that if the leaders of the Trade Unions are reticent to accept the proposals made by the Prime Minister, it is due to unfulfilled promises in the past.

“We, therefore, appeal to the Government to continue this process of dialogue by ensuring that veritable and verifiable guarantees are given on decisions taken to resolve the grievances of the Trade Unions who represent the popular opinion of our people.

We cannot continue to play the politics of the ostrich. We humbly exhort the Government to do everything in its power and within the shortest time possible to engage in an honest and credible dialogue with the Trade Unions to resolve the issues affecting the English Subsystem of Education at all levels.

Our Children, our parents and our school communities have borne the brunt of the current strike action and our children’s future is being compromised.

If we are fighting for a better future for our children it would not be proper to compromise their dreams for that very future by holding them from going back to school.

Children cannot be used as instruments to achieve political ends,” the Bishops wrote.

This information is contained a pastoral letter written by the President of BAPEC, Mgr. George Nkuo, Bishop of Kumbo on December 6

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