Education authorities in Cameroon’s political capital, Yaoundé are struggling to cope with the high influx of students from the restive Anglophone Regions of the country as the 2018/2019 academic year commences.
School administrators and teachers, who spoke to The National Times, declared that they started witnessing the influx since last academic year and revealed that the number has greatly increased this year.
“Since 2017/2018, the students have been coming and this year many more are coming from the North West and South West Regions,” Keyaka Edward, Principal, Christian Comprehensive Secondary School, Yaoundé.
The Principal, who heads one of the biggest Anglo-Saxon boarding schools in Yaoundé, declared that the primary motive for these movements is the violence in the Anglophone Regions. “We have spoken with these students and they all tell us one thing, violence,” he said. While we were discussing with the Principal, news came in that some of the students who had already been registered are unable to make it on the first day of school reopening because they are trapped in some villages and towns engulfed by violence.
Despite the challenging times, the Principal still believed that the children can make a better future for themselves which is why he reminded them of the need to stay focus and give themselves better values by studying hard. “I instructed them to make use of the “PTT” formula which is (P) Present at the right (T) Time and doing the right (T) Thing. So they should be Present at the right Time and ensure that they do the right Thing so as to guarantee a better future for themselves,” he said.
When we visited Manguem Berthe, a parent in Yaounde, she was full of anger and wondered aloud how Cameroon got itself to this point where people have to forcefully migrate from one corner to the other. “Look at my house, it’s just like a church now, children everywhere and they have to school here because we don’t know when the violence would subside,” she lamented.
Being in Yaoundé to some of these students is like a miracle, owing to the situation they left behind. Little Emmanualla is just 15 years and is coming to Yaoundé to pursue her education after obtaining her GCE Ordinary Level.
She told The National Times that it is a nightmare leaving in the South West Region. She said she was eager to go further away from the violence. “Every day is gunshots and you live in constant fear,” she said adding that “we were only able to write the mock and the GCE and no class exams because of the violence.”
Even though it is difficult to estimate the number of students who have moved to Yaoundé fleeing from the violence in the Anglophone Regions, the abnormal hustling and bustling in travel agencies is a testimony of the forced migration going on with some villages almost completely deserted.
A driver who plies the Kumba-Yaoundé Road told The National Times that the number of passengers this year is the highest they have ever seen with the majority going to Yaoundé to enrol in schools and very few nursing the courage to enter Kumba.
He said that sometimes they are called to drive empty buses to Kumba to ferry the ever increasing passengers waiting at the park.
With the ever increasing demand and pressure on these schools in Yaoundé some schools have already gone beyond the Ministerial limit of 60 students per classes and in some of the public schools we saw students complaining of lack of space on the first day of back-to-schools. Some unscrupulous Principals are using the situation to make money for themselves.
As many more persons keep seeking refuge in Yaoundé, even houses are becoming more scarce and expensive because some of the heavy demand, which is almost surpassing supply. With the situation in the North West and South West not getting better many more students and pupils would be making the journey to Yaoundé especially as the Presidential election is fast approaching.