Persons with Visual Impairment in Cameroon have penned a six-page open letter to the President of the Republic expressing their dissatisfaction at the indignation they have been forced to go through in Cameroon.
The letter is penned under the banner of the Cameroon Movement of the Learned Blind and Visually Impaired, better known by its French abbreviation as DAMIC.
It expatiates on the reforms which the President of the Republic instituted in 2018 for the benefit of persons with disabilities, but which to date has never been taken into account or fully implemented by direct authorities concerned.
The letter made a full analysis of Law No 2010/002 of April 13, 2010, on the promotion and protection of persons with disabilities, of which a decree was signed in 2018 laying down the terms of the application of this law.
The letter penned down by the visually impaired laid particular emphasis on education and employment benefits that are supposed to go to persons with disabilities but are somehow denied them out of the bad will of authorities or because of their conditions.
Government violating its own laws
The letter reads in part: “Indeed, many of us were convinced that this enabling decree meant a new government policy more favorable to the consideration of a handicap approach in the implementation of socio-economic projects for the development of Cameroon. In terms of education, Article 4 of this decree imposes certain obligations on the State in order to make the education of persons with disabilities possible, namely Initiation into appropriate communication methods allowing people with disabilities to access normal schooling and vocational training programmes.”
The visually impaired used the letter to express their dissatisfaction at the rate of implementation of the presidential directives. In a desperate tone, they call on the Head of State to make their lives more dignifying.
“Your Excellency, More than two years after the signing of decree N° 2018/233/PM OF JULY 26, 2018 reinforced by your promises, I tis with deep indignation that we call on your attention to its poor and slow implementation. We note that the government is not doing enough to improve the living conditions of some of our disabled fellow citizens who have lived in extreme poverty for so many years. There is no real political will for the implementation of exceptional measures conducive to the materialization of this decree”
‘People with visual employment deserve education’
The letter has equally pointed out at continuous resistance by most Educational institutions in enforcing these decisions contained in the degree. “Concerning education, we note that some leaders of public schools are still resistant to the free education policy for disabled people who are yet very indigent.
The disabled whose families are deprived do not always benefit from scholarships or specialized equipment despite their requests, especially those who live in regions far from large cities such as Douala and Yaoundé. Due to the lack of specialized teachers, visually impaired people are still limited in the choice of more attractive courses from the point of view of employment”
It is also pointed out that more than 90% of Persons with visual impairment who have received some form of education are still unemployed. Due to this, most of these persons who have very little physical abilities like other person’s tend to other degrading activities such as begging to take care of themselves.
In order to seek for better conditions for persons with Visual impairment and for other disabilities, the letter also gave out major proposals to stakeholders that will improve the integration and compatibility of persons with physical impairments to society such as;
The encouragement of pupils and students with disabilities through, among other things, the granting of scholarships to the most deserving. Hence, the need for the creation of a special fund for this purpose. They want the state to improve accompanying measures or financial support for associations that supervise children with disabilities.
‘People with virtual impairments also need jobs’
The letter calls on President Paul Biya to create a special service responsible for assisting disabled job seekers within the National Employment Fund (NEF/FNE). To this structure, they call on the state to assign very precise and defined missions.
“The establishment of subsidies for the purchase of specialized and expensive equipment, likely to strengthen the autonomy of the disabled and increase their performance in the workplace and The ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty aimed at facilitating access the blind, the disabled and people with other reading difficulties to printed texts and public works through their adaptation amongst other things,” they requested.