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We Didn’t Receive Bribe, Teachers’ Trade Unions Leaders Declare 

By Chris Mbunwe

Leaders of the All Anglophone Teachers’ Union have denied receiving any bribe to oil their fingers to sign a communiqué suspending the teachers’ strike that has crippled schools for the past three months.

“We challenge anybody with concrete, palpable proof to bring it to the light and shame us, and we caution the society that we must always build our foundations on love, not on fabrications, rumour peddling, sensationalism, back-stabbing, generalized phobia and all forms of terror,” Valentine Semma of CATTU, Valentine Tameh of TAC, Stephens Afuh of PEATTU and Emmanuel Anyeah, declared in a press statement issued on February 27 in Bamenda.

Theteachers’ trade union leaders say in all sincerity, the suspension of the strike action was under-propped by a number of well-meaning considerations, especially the fact that two of their spokespersons on different occasions asserted without equivocation before the adhoc deliberations ended, and they were on hand to prove the veracity of the assertions, “that we had worked on the terms of reference and deadlines in stress-free conditions void of intimidation.”

CATTU, TAC, PEATTU and PEATTUC, however, say Government has belatedly granted seven solutions to the grievances discussed and adopted at the end of the inter-ministerial adhoc committee in Bamenda.

While thanking the press and the prodding cross-section of the public for their insistent calls that have “finally forced this reluctant press statement to come out after all”, the trade union leaders reiterated their stand that they were not bribed with fabulous sums of money.

Consortium Denounced

While refuting allegations for receiving bribe that pushed them to sign a communiqué suspending the teachers’ strike,CATTU, TAC, PEATTU andPEATTUC also denounced the outlawedAnglophone Civil Society Consortium.

The leaders declared thus, “We deem it necessary to make this clear: that all the teachers’ trade unions leaders were not members of the Consortium. Those of us who resisted affiliating were driven by the conviction that as trade union leaders in charge of Basic and Secondary Education, we had to stay focused on educational issues especially as our fundamental law, the 1998 Law of Orientation, in Section 8 (page 4), makes it clear that Education shall be apolitical.”

The teachers pleaded with Government to temper justice with mercy and show magnanimity, love and forgiveness to those who have been indicted in one way or the other, so that true healing will be experienced by all the nation’s children.

According to the teachers’ trade unions, the fact that the 11 grievances tabled before the Education AhHoc were stretched to more than nineteen (19) and rigorously analysed was indeed comforting. 

A close look at the adhoc resolutions, many which are composite, will show that exactly 45 core issues were discussed and streamlined into short, middle and long term gains, together with at least six other issues that were not within the Education Ad Hoc’s competence to handle. 

“It goes therefore without saying that an adhoc on education can handle only educational issues, not those of health, nor of the economy, nor of the legal and or judicial domains, nor of politics. We believe the discussions of the Education Adhoc were satisfactorily completed and what is left is for the members of the follow-up committee, some of who are the trade union leaders, to oversee the implementations,” the union leadersstated. 

They further stated that they are comforted to note that the Government has been displaying some good faith in implementing some of the resolutions, even if not so much with respect of the set deadlines.

Resolutions Implemented

The teachers’ trade unions cited some of the resolutions implemented to include: progressive re-deployment of secondary and technical teachers whose respective operational languages are English and French into contexts-where they can operate in function of their training and competence;

The draft project to increase the number of specialties in English-speaking technical schools in the 2017/2018 academic year and the creation of the new Department of Technology and Mathematics in the HTTTCs, to begin to address the acute personnel lacuna in those sections that are vital in the emergence drive;

The Ministerial instructions during the adhoc ministerial order to the Vice Chancellors to ensure that fees for both public and private students be maintained at FCFA 50,000 with appeal to the trade unions to ensure that the orders were respected to the letter;

The progressive conversion of PTA teachers in Basic Education into contract/contractualised teachers of the public sector and the promise to strengthen the recruitment of holders of the BTS; the HPD and the HND into the HTTTCs, especially by taking them on for shorter training periods and graduating them to fill the yawning void of English-speaking teachers in the technical-industrial and science disciplines;

The creation of a Department of French Modern Letters in HTTC Bambili effected by Order no 17/00090/MINESUP of 8th February, 2017, and to begin in the 2017/2018 academic year to solve the problem of the acute shortage of French teachers in Basic and Secondary Education and consequently enhance our dismal bilingualism;

The draft project proposal aligning the technical education certification system of the English-speaking sub-system of education and its nomenclature with the guiding principles of the said systems to replace the incongruous and unjust hybridization that was evident in the CAP.Probatorie and Bac Francophone type examinations;

The giving of instructions for textbooks to stay for longer periods on school curricula and the continuous extension of the deadline for the registration of official examinations.

They concluded, “While wholeheartedly thanking Government for these concessions even if belatedly granted, we continue to implore the powers that be to proceed with the progressive implementation of the short, middle and long term resolutions as a sign of good faith and or healing.  We continue to hope and promise to negotiate for a progressive re-adjustment of the academic year, so that the certificates obtained by the learners in the Anglophone regions should not suffer any prejudices whatsoever; after all, when the illness is grave, the remedy needs to be very strong.  This will be a guarantee to many reluctant parents that the effort of children returning to school will not be in vain.

“In all humility, we are convinced that for once, Anglophones made significant gains for their subsystem in particular and for the Cameroonian educational system in general, even if many of these are still in the guise of resolutions. These gains, we are convinced, if properly, meticulously followed up, will give our educational sub-system the long sought-after autonomy it needed to co-exist with the Francophone sub-system without interference. All education trade unions should always come together and stay bonded so as to continue in relentless effort to protect, develop and sustain what we think our children deserve as educational heritage.   

“We appeal that all education stakeholders should stay bonded as to jealously preserve such and more acquisitions, while ever looking forward to and for better things and dispensations.  Were the community to decide sooner or later that children should go back to school especially as many have expressed and are expressing serious worries about the using of children as pawns in an unending adult political game, we promise to deploy every nerve, sinew and argument to negotiate and obtain such an extension for the nearly lost academic year as will make the certificates genuine whenever they are obtained.

“While observing that the social, moral and academic ramifications of this education strike have been quite telling on all and sundry, and opining that it might be time for all actors-opinion leaders, spiritual leaders, everybody – to seek to heal the land and move forward in expectation, we nevertheless agree that the work of the Ad Hoc Committee that was handling the grievances tabled by the lawyers ended prematurely. Thus we appeal that the Government should re-launch the talks in that ad hoc in order to aspire for holistic solutions to the problems plaguing our community and so hope for proper, general healing.”

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