31 May 2010

Cameroon: UNESCO Chair Installed In UB

Basic Education Minister, Youssouf nee Adidja Alim, made the journey to Buea to honour the new concern for Special Needs Education.

Professor Therese Mungah Shalo Tchombe has been installed as first ever UNESCO Chair Holder for special Needs Education at the University of Buea (UB). The Chair will run for three years renewable. The eminent Professor of Education, though retired, was appointed to her new position by the Paris-based UNESCO office last November 2009. On hand to grace Professor Tchombe's inaugural was Cameroon's Minister of Basic Education, Youssouf née Adidja Alim, who came in from Yaounde .

The objective assigned to Professor Tchombe's UNESCO Chair in UB is to foster training and research aimed at developing capacity in the area of Special Needs Education. Following her installation, Professor Tchombe presented a discourse in which she highlighted specific areas of failures in the past to make Education a special need inclusive endeavour in Cameroon . Such lacuna, she explained, included inappropriate infrastructure to enable access of handicapped persons to classes. She pointed out, also, that most teachers did not always pay special attention to special need learners during their lectures. With a Chair offered to UB, now, things are bound to change for the better. As Professor Tchombe told the press, her new job simply means that she has a cheque card in hand to mobilize funds for special Needs Education. The positive effects of the UNESCO Chair would be better hopes for the over 490 impaired recorded handicapped students in Cameroon , 31 of them in the University of Buea .

In 2008 Cameroon's First Lady and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Chantal Biya, donated office equipments to the University of Buea for special Needs Education. As a mark of honour, a block in UB was named after UNESCO.

To immediately kick off the activities of the INESCO Chair in UB, an international workshop to run from 26 through 29 May 2010 was launched alongside Professor Tchombe's inaugural. The theme on which to weave its work is: "Dimensions, Policy, Research and Best Practices for Inclusive Education in Higher Education". Renowned Professors in the domain attending the UB workshop come from many African countries including Nigeria , Namibia , Ghana and host country Cameroon. Professor Nwazuoke Ambroise of the University of Ibadan ( Nigeria ) stated that "The whole idea about inclusive education derives from the need to help the child with special needs maximize his chances of reaching his achievement potentials." The UNESCO measurement in achieving this goal rests on the twin factors namely equity and access to ascertain if an educational system is inclusive or exclusive.

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