Is there an education policy in Cameroon? Better, do the rulers have a dream for the country they are in charge of?
These questions may seem insane, even daring, when it is considered obvious that a country cannot envisage its future without its leaders having aims in the training of its children, aims naturally carried by the types and the quality of training they put in place. The impertinence of this question would become more obvious, when one remembers that a law, that of 1998, called the orientation of education in Cameroon, exists precisely to respond to this concern.
Only, the observation of facts and practices surrounding education, impose this concern.
These inconvenient facts.
If the decades that followed our accession to independence have shown that a school is a framework with infrastructures, meeting well-defined standards, for specific missions, led by people more or less trained , but respected and respectable, it unfortunately happens that as our sovereignty is confirmed, what once ensured the school its notoriety, crumbles every day under the test of selfishness, irresponsibility and immorality: who still cares about the dimensions that a classroom, a school concession, must have, the different equipment that must be found there, the very site that must house it?
Do our decision-makers take to heart the fact that there is an almost close link between the quality of men we want to train and the environment in which they must be trained?
When we know the interaction that exists between Man and his living environment, can we form great Spirits, capable of Dreams, in narrow and unsuitable environments?
Article 2 of the aforementioned law emphasizes: “education is a major national priority. » in front of such a declaration, what to say, when we see that from 2017 to 2021, the share of the public budget allocated to education, went from 14.6% to 11.8% (statistical yearbook Minedub/MINESEC 2021) then even that we are since 2015 under « oath », in front of the international community, « oath » taken during the world education forum, where we promised among the nations of the world, to increase the financing of education to at least 20% of the public budget?
Is this not enough to question the real existence of a political will, for the promotion of quality education in Cameroon?
As expected, the investment budget that was to accompany our commitment has received serious blow: already insignificant for a country that has great ambitions, from 5.2% in 2017, it fell to 3.8% in 2021 according to the same source. Therefore, quality infrastructure for quality education has deserted the minds of our decision-makers; quality is sacrificed for quantity. It is no longer in the public school that we must look for the reference; so much the better for the Private Founders who can each, at the rate of “generous gestures”, set up their “business” where they want, as they want; selfishness and greed helping. At the Public School, everything there, apart from the quality of some of its teachers and their level of salary, which makes their private colleagues green with envy, reduced for the most part to living the improved form of slavery, operates in discount mode: in 2023, 12 years from the achievement of the emergence announced in 2035, in several corners of the country, the undersides of trees are still used as classrooms and their foliage as roofs for certain public schools . It is not tables - benches that you have to look for, even less electricity or drinking water in these environments where academic activities are dictated by the climate. Elsewhere, by occult arrangements, foreign to the requirements of education, a certain elite, to ensure the availability of electoral cattle, creates buildings and teachers without pupils. The most alarming thing is that even the urban centers are affected by these obstacles linked to the unacknowledged plot, methodically hatched against knowledge and for the brutalization of the masses. Here, when nature gets involved, a heavy rain for example, in some neighborhoods, the classrooms are flooded; the teachers, forced to stop lessons, become lifeguards to save the children, when the wind has not carried away the roof; a roof weakened by the weight of age and neglect,
characteristic sign of public buildings; let's forget the ones that are made in a hurry, but whose prices bear no relation to the quality. Meanwhile, it's the same programs, the same content everywhere. Children whose division of the school year is dependent on nature and those whose electricity and drinking water are not common goods, have computers and other scientific subjects on the program; do not go there and ask for a computer room, a laboratory; what a computer or a test tube looks like. Like their peers from the Schools worthy of the name, they pass the same tests for the same diplomas.
“The school year includes at least thirty-six weeks of effective lessons”. Informs us of Article 22 of Cameroon’s education orientation law. Did we do it in 2022, in view of the teachers’ strike which lasted more than a month and the holidays decreed in favor of football, during the CAN, thus consecrating the supremacy of games over work in a poor country heavily in debt?
And those practices that are gaining ground at the expense of quality education.
Each school year, we know in principle the date of the beginning of the courses; but when exactly do they end?
It is constant to note that, despite the formal acts which specify the division of the school year, in this case its beginning and its end, each establishment goes there according to the financial benefits it intends to make. For example, our little tours of the capital have made us realize that some colleges, belonging to a renowned religious denomination, have not had a third trimester.
Returning on April 17, 2023 recovery, on May 14, 2023, they closed the year with the delivery of report cards; only students in examination classes continued to benefit from the lessons. This tendency which is general, is a cheating which consists in acting as if, the shortcomings accumulated in the lower classes, for the same causes, can be filled in the examination classes and guarantee better results during the certification examinations, results which have become the “caches – sexes”, “masks” that cover all the miseries that education goes through. And the parents of students?
Willingly despite, they gave themselves for only expenses, to pay the schooling and to wait for the good results; regardless of skill level. Reduced to looking for the minimum to live on, they feel neither in right nor in duty to demand quality service, neither from the Founders to whom they pay considerable sums, nor from the State whose mission is: « The organization and control of education at all levels…” (law 098 on the orientation of education, art.14). To distract them more, surprising success rates, even for proofreaders, are served to them. In this atmosphere, we understand why the part-time school, called « double flow », introduced to respond to the threat of covid-19, is on the way to becoming normal. Moreover, the words of the Inspector General Coordinator of Education at the Ministry of Secondary Education (MINESEC), during the « press scene », program at CRTV, on June 04, 2023, hinted in half – words , that in view of the results of the exams in their possession (66.67%) in 2022, this System has everything to remain, although it only enrolls 6% of Establishments and only concerns certain classes that the Principals concerned , have given themselves the freedom to fill, despite the existence of regulatory texts, with « Love » for Cameroon.
No offense to his Co panelists who tried to show the limits of this option, not the least of which is its inability to allow good coverage of the programs, when we disregard the injustice it causes for learners who are subject to it, compared to their comrades in the normal flow. Indeed, how can we evaluate at the same level, a child who receives 900 hours of lessons per year and one who receives barely 450?
What escapes logic is that all these shortcomings have almost no effect on the performance of learners, if we stick to the success rates known in recent years: in 2021, according to the statistical yearbooks of MINEDUB and MINESEC, the lowest performance is that of Literary Probatory which was 53.67%; the BEPC being the exam where the students particularly “shone”, 89.56%. The Examinations of 2021/2022, year of the CAN and the great teachers’ strike, did not derogate from this curiosity: 66.67% according to the Inspector General Coordinator of Teachings at CRTV, during the program cited above.
Only, the MINESEC 2021 statistical yearbook, reports to us the completion rates in the 1st cycle of general secondary education and vocational technical secondary education of: 57.69%, i.e. a dropout rate of 42.31%. Therefore, we are entitled to ask the question, what can push so many students to give up during the cycle if, despite the vicissitudes that should hinder their good performance, they give scores well above the average?
The results that the Inspector Coordinating is pleased with, are they not the result of a race to the bottom?
And if the dropout rate were a reflection of the decrepitude of our educational system, for whom are these lyingly correct results that we are served with the active complicity of teachers who, in shameful irresponsibility, agree to renounce themselves for empty hopes, favoring political reasons over the promotion of the knowledge of which they are supposed to be the defenders?
Can the Inspector General Coordinator of Teachings explain to us the content of the meetings that surround the deliberations that produce the results he is delighted with?
Should the race for individual profits and the need for demagogic policies make us forget or minimize the dangers of an approximate formation?
What future, with under-trained, poorly evaluated children?
When we know that many through shortcuts and other traffic, will land in education or in the health sector; can you imagine what will happen?
What fundamental will we lose by doing exactly what we have to do?
More and more, alarmist, frightening testimonies are made against certain people who are wrongly called doctors, but whose only competence is the diploma he has, a diploma that has no relation to what he really knows. On the other hand, it is the schools, better still, the students who pay the price for graduates without science or knowledge. When will the end of the formalization of political correctness, to make way for honor and dignity?
The instrumentalization of diplomas for the purpose of distraction to divert the attention of parents from the absence of the minimum, for a good supervision of children, is a dangerous game; more expensive than the return to traditional school, promoter of social ascent.
What is certain, we will all pay; we will be victims of our appetites, of our active or passive complicities; we will receive the price of cheap education from a society we are sacrificing.
The National President of UPSWC