The Closure of Schools in the Northwest Region of Cameroon (2023)
For the past six years, schools in my region have been near shutdown because of a conflict that has plagued this particular area.
The closure of schools first began when the Teachers’ Trade Union shut down schools to address professional dissatisfactions in our sector. The teachers’ strike gradually took another turn when separatist elements calling for the independence of the former British Southern Cameroons got involved. When the strike descended into armed conflicts, separatists called for a total shutdown of schools.
For over six years, thousands of students have been unable to access formal education because of fear of attacks from armed separatists, who insist on a total shutdown of schools.
Constant threats to our lives, and those of students, and other actions like kidnappings, decapitations, and arson on schools are some of the reasons children fear going to school. Few schools operate in my region, most especially in the urban areas, where students go to school most times without uniforms for fear of being identified as defying the instructions of those who called for these shutdowns.
Only about 10% of schools are operational in my region. The consequences of such is that an entire generation of children are unable to access formal education. This is further compounded with high crime waves and other social ills. Many of my students, who no longer go to school, have been forced into Internet fraud--especially the males--while the girls engage in prostitution to earn a living.
As teachers, we fear going to teach in classrooms, for fear of being tagged as traitors. Children, out of idleness, have eventually joined the conflict to bear arms as child soldiers.
The situation is that which requires urgent help and attention.
The author later expanded on this topic in the ninth episode of our podcast. Listen here:
Edited: Andru Shively
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