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Child Education Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Ajomuzu Collette Bekaku, Cameroon Jul 1, 2004
Education , Child & Youth Rights   Opinions


It is trite learning today that the right to education, in human rights theory, is as fundamental as the right to live. No doubt it has been enshrined in universally endorsed international as well as national legal instruments. For instance, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations recognizes in explicit terms the value of this right while the Cameroon constitution re-states it in almost equal terms. Since most of these legal instruments speak of education in global terms; and as such, it cannot be stated in absolute terms what they mean by the right to education, it must be stressed immediately that this article is primarily concerned with the right to formal education, i.e. education in some recognized and established pedagogic institution that imparts knowledge to people.

Africa is the richest continent in natural resources, with a multiplicity of ethnic groups and socio-political systems. It is also often referred to as the cradle of civilisation. Cameroon has been considered by many as “Africa in miniature". With about 250 ethnic groups, it boasts of being a blend of all the regions, peoples and socio-political systems in Africa.

It is against this background that we must appreciate the importance of child education in Cameroon. Given that the children of today are the leaders of tomorrow, the Cameroonian child must therefore have a sense of responsibility instilled in him early enough; he or she must have a solid education so as to take advantage of auspicious opportunities tomorrow can offer as well as the extensive natural resources the country is blessed with.

It must be stated here that the Cameroonian government has fully understood the exigency of securing education to all Cameroonian children by making primary school education free in all government schools. This is a laudable policy. It is hoped that funds made available to the government by the Bretton Woods Institution under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiatives would be judiciously invested in child education. In recent years, the Ministry of National Education has been sending a "Minimum Package" to some primary and secondary schools throughout the national territory. This minimum package consists of books and other stationery to be used at the beginning of the academic year to enhance the teaching of pupils. This too is another praiseworthy policy.

The importance of child education in Cameroon assumes a different dimension against the blackcloth of information technology (IT for short). In this modern age, IT has become the central vascular system of many spheres of life, to wit, business, cinema and television, science and education as a whole. Child education in Cameroon must therefore be IT oriented. Some primary and secondary schools can already boast of computer and Internet centres. It is hoped that this new phenomenon, common especially in the big towns (Douala, Yaounde, Bafoussam, etc) will soon gain currency in rural areas.

Notwithstanding the importance and advantages of child education, many hurdles still exist which militate against universal child education in Cameroon.

First of all, poverty and ignorance still reign supreme in Cameroon. Education is expensive and we must take cognizance of our present socio-economic realities. It would be difficult for all parents and guardians to educate their children when most of them are living below poverty line.

Again there is the problem of discrepancies in social values: some parents, especially in the villages, prefer to educate their children in farming, hunting, cattle rearing, etc. Others prefer sending only their male children to school and keeping the females at home. They argue that female education is a bad investment: the educated female child would later grow up and marry into another family, and so all her education would only benefit her husband and her new family. With respect to the above view, it can only be said that it is about time that such “ancient or rather traditional mentalities” be swept away.

To conclude, it can only be emphasised that child education in Cameroon remains an imperative obligation on the state as well as on all Cameroonians of goodwill. We must take advantage of the relative political stability in contemporary Cameroon. This stability provides the necessary fertile ground on which the seeds of child education can be sown. Together, let’s say “NO” to child labour and child trafficking. Together let’s send our children to school. Let’s educate the female child: to educate a woman is to educate the nation. Together, let’s make our children the homemakers and breadwinners of tomorrow.



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Ajomuzu Collette Bekaku

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