Schools In Douala: Cigarettes, Drugs Consumption, Rampant Killings Now The Order Of The Day

Six students have been dismissed from Government Technical High School Douala Bassa.
Thirty nine others will appear before the disciplinary council in the month of June.
The students dismissed were found guilty of smuggling and consuming hard drugs on campus.
To Eboule Emmanuel, principal of the school, “We caught a male student at the gate with drugs safely tucked into his belt. He was taken to the office and after several hours of questioning, we discovered that there is network of six boys in the engaged in drug related activities on campus. In order to enforce discipline and security, we had to play by the rules and dismiss them”.

In Government Bilingual High School Bonaberi, Douala 4, students say the consumption of drugs on campus by students and the ensuing consequences of insecurity for both students and teachers is widespread despite strict measures put in place by the school administration.

In anonymity, a form five student of the school revealed to us methods the culprits use to get drugs on campus. “We stuff our sandwiches with drugs and can then bring them into the school undetected. While on campus, we pull them out and use, but those caught in the process are sanctioned immediately”

The result of all this, is violence and fighting caused by the student drug addicts. A mathematics teacher of Institute Modern Polyvalant (IMP) Secondary School Bonaberi is receiving intensive medical care after he was stabbed twice by a form five student of the school. The student later confessed at a police station that he acted on the influence of drugs.

Situated in the Douala 3 municipality, the Government Technical High School Douala, GTHS Bassa has a long history of bigger students bullying and confisticating items of younger students. Nlonga Fabrice, 14 years , a form two student attests: “On three different occasions, my feeding allowance has been seized from me by bigger boys popularly known in French as ‘Taxeur’. They seize things from us the small boys and girls and threaten to beat us if we dare to complain to the discipline masters”.
“Bandits and other recalcitrant boys usually come around the school campus, smoke cigarettes and pollute the classrooms while students are in class,” Mbigha Emmanuel, vice principal of government bilingual high school Nylon Brazzaville laments regrettably. To the school administrator, GBHS Nylon Brazzaville works in close collaboration with elements of the 8th Police Station situated at the Dakar neighborhood to arrest external criminals who seek to create disorder and insecurity in the school.

Students and their bags are thoroughly searched for drugs, phones and other dangerous things they might use to harm others.
This has not totally eliminated the smuggling of unwanted objects to the campus.

Mbigha Emmanuel having served as a senior discipline master for nine years (at Government Bilingual High School Deido) says “…recalcitrant students still succeed to get to school with drugs, notably tramadol. Teachers are not nurses so they cannot differentiate between medications for illness carried by students to campus and hard drugs”.

In Douala, most schools have constructed giant gates to deter both invaders and recalcitrant students. This has not been able to stop some students from scaling the fences when in possession of forbidden drugs or materials.

Schools in Cameroon’s economic capital Douala are witnessing a geometric increase in the number of students since 2016. This is because secondary schools especially public ones, are respecting a ministerial decision of 2018 ordering school authorities to unconditionally admit students fleeing the armed conflict in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon.

From a little over 3400 students before the start of the armed conflict, the Vice Principal of Government Bilingual High School Nylon Brazzaville says the school counts close to 5000 students now with the increase attributed to the Anglophone section of the school.
The increase in numbers does not necessarily come along with an increase in the number of teaching and administrative staff. This has widened the teacher/student gap and consequently minimizes control.

Causes of Insecurity:
There is no thorough moral background investigation for the students before admission. To the Delegate of Secondary Education for Wouri Division, the neglect of this aspect is the root cause of insecurity in schools. Moukalla Sylvester states: “The law says students should be admitted prior to a proper check of their character.
Unfortunatly, it’s no longer the case today. This means even hardened criminals are admitted. While in school, they influence others».
A fact Eboa Thelma, principal of government bilingual high school Bepanda confirms. “At the beginning of the school year, some administrators impose lists of candidates we school administrators need to admit without questioning. In such a situation, we no longer investigate the moral standards of the students.

A ministerial text stipulates that bars or drinking spots and other noisy commercial services be located away from a school campus. According to Njoh Elvis, a secondary school teacher, this text is not respected. “Students see beer parlors, cigarette selling points and other hard drugs sold with impunity just beside or at the entrances to school campuses. This in one way or the other works on the psychology of the students and before you know it, they want to test and at the end addiction sets in.”

A teacher at Government Bilingual High School Deido attributes the high level of insecurity in the school to the presence of business centres around the campus. For the teacher, the presence of ‘secondhand bookshops’(Shops where used textbooks are sold) and newspaper stands act as breeding grounds for illegal drug businesses between students and other crimininals.Beside this, students join town boys in a cemetery located opposite the school for the consumption of these drugs.

The presence of commercial centres around schools. At government bilingual high school Newbell Douala 2 ,the school shares boundaries with Douala central market and is situated a few meters from the Newbell central prison.

All these present daily security challenges on students and teachers. Collins Sop, an education psychologist at a Government Bilingual High School states that parents have definitely failed in their parental roles thereby exposing children to the society which teaches the kids most often negatively.

To Mbigha Emmanuel, a former Senior Discipline Master at GBHS Deido,the use of mobile phones on campus by students is the root cause of most violent behavior. Despite the ban on the use of cell phones by students in schools, some still sneak in with the gadgets that later develop to other issues. For instance, today vice principal of GBHS Nylon Brazzaville sites the stabbing to death of a form five student at GBHS Deido by a former student of the school. The fight according to school mates originated from a quarrel over a telephone.

Teachers accuse parents of poor parenting. They think that parents have given their children an overwhelming freedom to do what they like reason why they constantly break rules and regulations put in place in schools in Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon.

Dominic Meme Nwakimo
Mimi Mefo Info

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