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Churches Accuse Biya Of Destroying Anglophone Education 

By Chris Mbunwe

Anglophone educationists, the clergy, civil society organisations (CSOs) and human rights activists met recently in Bamenda and lambasted President Biya’s Government for the systematic destruction of Anglophone education.

At a heavily attended Public Conference organised and coordinated by the Cameroon Teachers’ Trade Union, CATTU, at the Bamenda-British Council Library, speaker after speaker resolved that, if Anglophones do not rise like one man, as they did during the struggle against the complete assimilation of Anglophones for the period Dr. Dorothy Njuema was Vice Minister of Education and during the fight for the GCE Board or the fight for the Higher Teachers Technical Training College in Bambili; that will be the end of Anglo-Saxon education, especially technical education.

The Executive Secretary General of CATTU, Wilfred Tassang, pledged to carry on such open conferences on Anglophone education and fight to the end, to ensure that Francophone educational authorities should not ram down the throats of Anglophones such dangerous and destructive reforms carefully designed to kill Anglo-Saxon education in Cameroon.

Presenting a chronological synopsis of attempts at assimilating or annihilating the English subsystem of education in Cameroon, renown educationist, John Taiti Fodje, said the Ombe Technical College trained technicians in motor mechanics, civil engineering, woodworks, building construction, electricity and electronics, and so on, and was meant to grow from the training of middle-skilled engineers and technicians. 

“But as soon as we merged (West Cameroon and La Republique du Cameroun), Ombe Technical College suffered a worse fate than CCAST Bambili. A new Principal was appointed there who knew nothing of the original plan of the Southern Cameroons for the college or he might have feigned ignorance of the plans. The institution was plundered and diminished almost to a skeleton of its former self. The destruction of Ombe Technical College led almost to the death of Technical Education for the English subsystem. Students were taught in a language that was neither English, nor French nor Pidgin, nor any of the Cameroonian local languages,” Fodje lamented. 

He argued that the opening of more of such so-called Technical Colleges and Technical High Schools in other parts of Southern Cameroons later West Cameroon, did not improve the situation. 

“This is testified by the technical examination taken by the English-speaking children of this country for 53 years of our unification,” Fodje stated. He said it took more than 30 years since Unification for a Grade I Technical Teachers Training College to be created to train Grade I Technical Teachers in the Anglophone zone (GTTC Mbengwi) and in the first year it was created, it was not advertised in the Northwest and Southwest Provinces to the effect that more than 70 percent of the pioneers trained there were Francophones. 

Until 2010, ENSET Douala was the only institution to train Teachers for Technical Colleges and High Schools and was almost exclusively training only Francophones. Very few Anglophones were admitted there.

By 2010, not up to two percent of the total numbers of teachers trained in Douala were Anglophones. In 2010, an HTTTC was created in Bambili, purportedly to train teachers for Anglophone Technical Colleges and High Schools, “but, unfortunately, again, very few Anglophones are being admitted to this school. Instead, more than 60 percent of the students are Francophones and, in some Departments, Francophones are more than 80 percent of the undergraduates,” Fodje continued.

 

According to Fodje, as long as policy makers in this country are basically Francophones, “it seems that Anglophones have to be constantly on the watch out to cry foul whenever attempts are made to assimilate or annihilate their subsystem of Education which has proven to be high quality not only in Cameroon but every where in the world.” He said, as individuals, Francophone parents cherish the Anglophone system of education, which is why there is a big rush into Anglophone type of schools by them for their children. “But policy makers seem to be bent on wiping out the special characteristics of Anglophone system of education.” 

After 53 years, Fodje said, the only way to ensure that Anglophones and their subsystem are protected is to “return to a federation in which the Anglophones can determine polices regarding those subsystems reserved for the federal states. Until then, we are condemned to be on the watch out at all times.”

Another key speaker, Rev. Father Tatah Mbuy, in a discourse titled: “Retrieving and consolidating values of Anglo-Saxon Educational system – A pre-requisite for an Emerging Cameroon in 2035,” said the future of any country depends on the quality of education that she puts in place. 

“Any one who does not care about the future should never be given husbandry of the present,” he sated.

“We can do nothing of our past except to use it to plan our future in the present,” he stated, dwelling on basic values of Anglo-Saxon education such as; holistic education, education for life, meritocracy, good citizenship and professional teachers.

“We can still turn the pendulum if we are sincerely eager to bequeath a good country to the generation coming after us,” Rev. Mbuy intimated

“When one gets out of this country and sees the talents and high profile technicians that this country has, one can only cry the beloved country,” he said adding that there are young Cameroonian educationists who can deliver the goods in Uncle Sam’s country and in the land of the Kaiser and in the Gulag

Archipelago of Mao Tse Tung. 

“If they have run away from their country, it needs to be a worry to us all,” he stated. 

He said people can only be attracted back home if the powers-that-be reward merit and give it a chance. He condemned the politisation of education in Cameroon, where appointments to top posts are on party lines, not competence based. 

“Our hope in this country still lies in the Confessional schools,” he stated. He said though they produce the best, their situation is compromised by the salary situation of the teachers and teaching conditions. Since very few of the poor parents can afford to send their children to mission schools, Mbuy suggested that Government should pay mission teachers or recruit them for the greater good of the country.

Hounourable Lucas Tasi Ntang, an educationist and former MP, in his paper titled “Democracy and the minority question; The case of the English subsystem of Education in Cameroon”, said when you destroy the cultural, political and economic institutions that a people stand for, “you destroy everything including their citizenship and patriotism which is reflected in their educational system.”

He continued that: “Unlike the United Kingdom, UK, and the United States of America, USA, that have a good functional democracy because the citizens are at the centre of every Government action, in Cameroon we are submerged in a dysfunctional democracy. In UK, USA and others, the rule of law, policy, affluence and sophistication for integrity, openness, impartiality, accountability and transparency, as well as efficiency and effectiveness, are critical.” 

The masses complain, are frustrated and bedevilled by self deluding, arbitrary and oppressive leaders who protect themselves. The Parliament is lame; the judiciary is pitted by the executive,” Tasi Ntang lamented.

He warned that, though Anglophones are in the minority, they have very active and big brains and should not be taken for granted. 

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