10 September 2017

Cameroon: Story Telling - Ghost Schools Breeding Sinecure Teachers

Many teachers take to idling or private occupation once they mark their attendance sheets.

"We are supposed to be in school at 7.30am and close at 3pm daily even when less than 20 percent of our pupils are in school", Mrs Ngassa, Head Teacher of Government Primary School Group One in Likoko Membea told this reporter who went investigating last Tuesday. Mr Mbue, a classroom teacher in Muea-Buea explained how he has been teaching two children since Monday. "It is easier because I have less copies to mark but psychologically disturbing to know that children are sitting back at home doing nothing", he replied. That is a small picture of loafing that has engulfed some teachers in some schools where school resumption is still timid in the South West Region. Cameroon Tribune went investigating on what they do with few pupils and students in class in the villages around Buea like Lower Muea, Bolifamba and Bomaka. Teachers were seen sitting on class verandas for long hours. Education authorities have reiterated to teachers last 4 September to organise themselves to be working on Saturdays in order to make up for lost classes of the past academic year. This is because some students and pupils have been promoted to higher classes after only one school term in the last academic year. It is common to see a class of 60 students now occupied by less than 20. In some rural settings like Muyuka, Wabane, Alou, Menji, Nguti and Mbonge, some teachers have taken farming more seriously than ever before because they may have less to do with pupils and students' scripts. In Metta Quarters in Kumba, headquarters of Meme Division, teachers of the Government School were seen in a row sitting in the school veranda some of which were cracking their egusi and chatting aloud. Such teachers are not the cause of the ghost schools, anyway! Some of them, especially of the primary schools, have even made rounds in neighbourhoods pleading with parents to bring their children to school. The surprising thing is simply that back in the quarters the children are coming out for home classes. This has been warned against. Why would children not go to school but prefer to attend home classes? "An educational system, from all standards, cannot rest on home classes and expect to compete", an Inspector of Education commented to this reporter. "What is really scaring these children and their parents from organising vigilante groups to prevent attacks?" a teacher wondered aloud at the Clerks Quarters newspaper kiosk in Buea yesterday. How satisfactory can it be to have a job with very little to do? Some people thing sinecure is psychologically disturbing. Especially when one is paid regularly.

INTERVIEW

Wilfred Wambeng: "The Consequences Of Destructions Are Great"

The Regional Delegate of Basic Education, North West region sizes up damages on school infrastructure.

Could you size up the situation of schools resumption in the North West region, a few days since the official start of the academic year?

The start of the academic year was timid with barely 3200 pupils in schools across the North West region. There was greater steam thereafter with about 5400 present for teaching and learning on day two and the number further increased on day three of school activities. It is not yet the best because it falls below our expectations. We thought that after the long stay at home and the complaints by parents that the children had outlived their stay, away from schools, there will be some enthusiasm to resume schools. It is unfortunate but we are hopeful that the situation will get better given the progressive nature of attendance as the days go by. Perhaps, I should add that so far, Donga Mantung is leading in attendance followed by Mezam Division.

Could we have a report of Basic Education schools burnt or vandalized during the period of the Anglophone crisis?

The burnings and destruction of school infrastructure started with Ecole Publique Francophone, Nkambe in Donga Mantung. Others that were later vandalized included a block at the Japanese- built, G.S Atuakom, Bamenda before an attempt on G.S Upper Bayelle, Bamenda. Another attempt was on the Head Teacher's office and part of a classroom in G.S Fundong, Boyo Division which is another Japanese built school. G.S Weh in Fungom Sub Division, G.S kikaikelaki, Kumbo Central sub Division, G.S Roi-Bui and G.S Babessi, Group have equally suffered some destruction. Away from public government schools, there was also an attempt to vandalize the pedagogic inspectorate in the neighbourhood of Up Station, Bamenda I sub Division. Elsewhere; St Therese Catholic Primary school Tobin, Kumbo Central Sub division was vandalized and CBC Primary School, Nkwen, Bamenda III Sub Division.

What has been the impact of such destruction of school infrastructure on the teaching and learning process?

The consequences of such destructions are great. It creates a psychological problem in the teaching and learning environment. Pupils are traumatized and they get scared to study in an environment threatened by burnings. It has a negative effect on the process of learning and we have been appealing to hierarchy to speed up repair works to ensure a conductive atmosphere for studies.

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