Friday, 16 June 2017

Anglophone Crisis -- “Teachers Are In Their Farms, Others Are Opening Small Businesses To Survive”

In an interview granted Cameroon News Today last Friday, the teacher describes the state of affairs in Bamenda since his school was shutdown months ago.

The educational sector since Nov. 22 when the strike officially started, has been highly affected. Private institutions of learning have remained closed with teachers through varied unions asking among other things the present system of education be modified to suit the desire and ambition of the Anglophone community.

Its true the government has been addressing some of these core issues tabled by teachers. But for close to seven months today, these teachers after uplifting the said strike action have not taught a single student.

Sama Albert (borrowed name) a teacher of economics in one of these private institutions is among those who received a series of donations coming from individuals so as to help him and his peers cope with the present state of affairs. He accepted to answer to some of our questions.
Anglophone Crisis: “Teachers Are In Their Farms, Others Are Opening Small Businesses To Survive”
Question 1: Have Students been coming to your School?
Students have not been coming to school because parents have decided to deliberately keep them home since they feel there is a problem to be solved by the government. So parents are denying they should come despite the fact that we are there and waiting for them.

Question 2: So are you trying to say the GCE exam is not going on in your school?
My school is lay private institution and the government with the GCE board decided that exams this year should be written in government schools for security reasons. That’s why students under our school will be heading to GBHS Bamenda and GBHS down town to write their exams.

Question 3: According to you, how many students got registered this year for the GCE exams that’s just for your school?
My school used to carry a large number of candidates and we used to have about 5000 students registering for the exams. But as of now we have registered close to 600 students in all the Centers. Therefor since registration has taken place, the students must write the exams.

Question 4: As a teacher, how do you perceive students who were not able to attend regular classes going to write exams they have not prepared adequately for?
As a teacher, it actually disturbs me because from the 21st of November till now I’m talking to you, the students have not been in classrooms to be taught yet they are facing an examination that is the GCE. I am very worried because I don’t know the type of exam they are going to write. But as for me, I’ll will not ask my child to take such an examination because for about five or six months no lesson has been taught. If the child registers the exam what is he going to write? My children never went for registration they are there in the house.

Question 5: What about you and your colleagues? How are you all coping? Are they still receiving their salaries?As for the teachers of lay private institutions as well as mission school teachers it has not been easy for them, I happen to be one of them but some schools are considering in the sense that they look for something to do at least to give their teachers something to keep them up. In other schools which am not in the position to maybe announce since the 21st students and teachers left in November, nobody has received a dime but like I said other schools are very considering.

Question 6: Who is the strike really affecting? Why are the students still involved in the said strike?
The strike is not only affecting the students, its affecting the north westerners as well as the south westerners. The teachers had some complains about the system of education and so they presented to the government but unfortunately, the way the government handled it was not comfortable for the teachers, so they had to ask students out. But since the government was slow again to handle the problem, many other problems came into the whole show and it became more than a situation the teachers could handle again. The vehicle was left rolling. Now the parents are the ones denying to send their children to school first of all they say for security reasons because the town is militarized, secondly they say the time is already far gone what are the students going to study now . they say they do that because the system of things now isn’t suitable for their children. The best example they use is that children who even graduate from state and private institutions don’t have any respectable job, they go around driving bikes and taxis because the system was not well arranged. Parents know therefor they can sacrifice their children for one or two years for them to have a better future.

Question 7: Are they some parents asking for school fees to be refunded?
You know it was too early when the strike in these regions started and so many schools did not even collect the school fee of the students. In my school for example we didn’t collect lets say up to 40% of the fee that was supposed to be collected. But not withstanding no parent has come to ask for fee to be refunded because the parents themselves do understand the situation.

Question 8: We saw some couple of months back government trying to look for solutions to the present conflict, were they sufficient?
Its true the government has been doing so much in a bid to solve the problems tabled by the teachers. Unfortunately due to the fact that the government was slow in responding to those problems that other problems came up, we no then have the southern Cameroons issue coming up, we have the problems of the Anglophones coming up; in fact many other things have come into the whole show that suppressed that of the teachers and today has turned into something else. As of now it is no more the teachers problem, but the Anglophone problem.

Question 9: What is it teachers are doing in a bid to survive ?
Teaching is a noble profession so to with teachers who are noble men, so to survive, most of them have gone to their farms and others opened petit businesses just to survive. But they do it in a noble way.
Question 10: Who is the person leading the Anglophone struggle? From who are you getting information? From SCACUF or any other organisation?
As an individual if you want to seek my point of view of that, its true the government despite all has answered to some of our grievances but remember that Mr Sema Valentine the present president of CATU he signed uplifting the strike, which therefor means the students as well as the teachers are supposed to be in school so the question now is who is controlling the students. The teachers have been coming to school but the students have not been. Parents have been getting information from elsewhere that their children should not be going to school. Even if you force them to sent their children to school they will not accept.

Question 11: What do you think is the present solution to the Anglophone issue?
The whole issue is just that of dialogue. If we continue to delay how will the dialogue first of all came. I’ll join the voices of other people to say that free these people who are in Yaounde, no need brutalizing people all around, allow the people be. Demilitarize the town, let the town be free and then you come for simple dialogue. A simple dialogue is one with a master becoming the servant and the servant becoming the master. But if the master remains the master and the servant remains the servant, then there’s no dialogue, but instead there’s what I call imposition. When you free the jailed Anglophones connected to the struggle in Yaounde, then there will be joy in the hearts of the people. Thereafter reasonable dialogue can take place.

Question 12: How the do you see the fate of education and that of the country as of now? Do you think school will resume next academic year?
The academic year must start, September must be a school resumption month. Am nevertheless sure the government has already drawn the Organigram? They have to solve the issues before that time. Because if they do not solve this problem, the stalemate we are witnessing today will be the same stalemate we will be witnessing at the end of October at the end of November at the end of December and even next year. I’m calling for sincere and truthful dialogue.

Question 13: Is there anything you’ll like to add?
We need to seriously pray for God’s intervention, don’t know who is controlling maybe God is controlling or some other person might be controlling but its still on the individual to decide. As of now I don’t see any body controlling the minds of the people. They are not sending their children to school because they want things to remain that way, not because they are been controlled. People have the right to reason , we have professors, doctors who are doing same. It is not only the problem of that Mama who is in the village of that pa who has never been is school but it’s a problem which concerns the Anglophones in general.
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