20 September 2017

Cameroon: South West - Schools Being Well Protected

The Administration is sparing no effort to enable safe learning and teaching in schools.

Following a coordinating meeting summoned early August by the South West Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai, boarding schools in particular as well as all schools were assured of State protection against attacks and calls for school boycott by invisible persons. Two weeks into the 2017-2018 academic year, calm and serenity are evident in the various Divisional headquarters of the six administrative zones (Divisions) of the Region. With no major incident reported so far, special surveillance is being mounted around boarding schools of the Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Lay Private ownership. Day schools, both public and private, are also under scrutiny against any attempts of intimidation, harm and destruction The managers of these schools called out for special protection against arsonists and violent invaders as a condition for them to reopen them. They argued during meetings with public officials that "the security of our children is at stake" As Cameroon Tribune plied the streets of Buea and Limbe visiting Primary and secondary schools the watchful eye of safekeeping officials and private security guards was evidenced at school gates, on strategic points of the towns and even in unsuspected areas. Last Saturday, school uniforms resurfaced in the streets on children going for catch up classes from 8am to 12 noon. In the markets, tailoring workshops, bookshops and stores, school needs like books and uniforms began reappearing. It gives the impression that ghost school mongers have nowhere to hide should they try to attack school needs again in the South West Region. The next worry has so far been how to manage the space between the school and the home and the men in uniform have held planning meetings to iron out that aspect. "In security matters we do not say everything in public," Governor Okalia Bilai reiterated during his coordination meeting last August. In Molyko, for example, some security officers have been seen helping to cross children from one side of the road to the other amid heavy traffic. The generalized fear is sinking in favour of a growing courage to take children to school. More and more schools are seeing their population grow school by the day. In many cases, apart from nursery schools, parents are seen taking their children personally to school campuses. A pool of cars are often packed by some parents in front of the BGS Molyko, GBHS Muea, GHS Bokwaongo and GHs Bolifamba. It is a sign that parents are collaborating with officials to secure their children and take fear out of the sails of the communities for children to attend school.

Reaction

Bernard Okalia Bilai: "We have Deployed Special Measures To Protect Boarding Schools"

Governor of South West Region.

"We are calling on the general public to collaborate and denounce any persons threatening the security of our children. The children must enjoy their right to go to school despite threats from invisible persons. I have instructed all Senior Divisional Officers to ensure the safety of pupils, students, teachers and the schools against perpetrators of violence. I cannot expose all methods we are using because the perpetrators of violence may take advantage but we are very alert. We have deployed special measures to protect boarding schools".

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