The Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) has outlined reasons why schools must resume in Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions ravaged for years now by a bloody conflict.
The rights group founded by human rights lawyer Agbor Nkongho says the school boycott call initiated by Anglophone corporatist leaders in 2016 is no longer fashionable.
The lawyers strike started in October 2016 and the teachers will later join them on November 21, 2016. Weeks later, the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium emerged as a platform to collectively advocate for reforms in the two sectors.
“While we must acknowledge the important role played by the school boycotts toward creating awareness on the status and problems of Southern Cameroon in union with the Republic of Cameroon, we must also recognize that the prolonged boycott has played negatively towards the socioeconomic and cultural advancement in, and indeed the future of Southern Cameroon,” CHRDA says in a statement July 9.
They regret that the main industry in the North West and South West Regions is education but unfortunately, this industry has remained closed down for three years now.
The consequences have been devastating, they say. “Prior to October 2016, more than 6000 schools were operational within the region. As at December 2018, less than 100 schools were operational; meaning nearly 5900 schools were closed down with over 40,000 students out of school and over 40 schools burnt down. As of June 2019, UNICEF reported that over 600,000 children are out of school in the Anglophone regions.
“More and more students have migrated to the French-speaking regions to pursue education. Paradoxically, as children massively migrate to the French speaking regions, they carry along all the investment on education to the regions and get to be absorbed by the French system the Southern Cameroonians claim to be fighting against. The school boycotts’ lack of foresightedness has caused the Anglophones to increase the marginalization of their own economy and facilitating the process of assimilation.
“In the days ahead, the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) will be launching a special Back To School campaign. This campaign is aimed at sensitizing parents, government, and separatist activists in the Anglophone regions on the need for creating safe space for children to go back to school. We at CHRDA value education as a fundamental human right.
“Any group that opposes education in any form is violating this right, recognized in a number of international conventions such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognizing the right to free and compulsory primary education for all and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in its Article 26.
“The right to education has also been reaffirmed by UNESCO in the 1960 Convention against Discrimination in Education, the 1981 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. We call on separatist leaders to direct their fighters to stop attacking academic institutions, teachers, and students. We also call on government to enhance efforts toward ensuring the security of school infrastructure, teachers, and students in the Anglophone regions, while appealing to parents to overcome fear and send their children to school.”
Mimi Mefo Info