By Ngala Hans, May 12, 2017
Cameroon Journal, Bamenda – Cameroon’s Minister of Secondary Education, Jean Masena Ngale Bibehe has handed down stern instructions to the effect that GCE Registrar should as a matter of urgency, create special centers to host unregistered students wanting to sit for the 2017 General Certificate of Education (GCE) examinations.
The Secondary Education boss sent shockwaves across Cameroon May 10 when he affirmed that due to growing concerns, even those who didn’t register for the examinations should be allowed to sit for it.
Bibehe made the pronouncement at the Northwest Regional Delegation for Secondary Education on the sidelines of a visit to the Region to assess the level of preparedness for the exams. There had been a tussle between the GCE Board registrar Humphrey Monono and Masena Bibehe. Monono had insisted that unregistered students cannot not be part of the examinations, but the latter (who wields more power) insisted that special centers be created to accommodate such students.
Bibehe explained that the strategy should be for candidates not to appear at the exam center in uniforms, rather, suggesting that candidates who are boarding students could decide to reside with their parents or guardians and go for the exams daily.
Responding to worries raised by Catholic principals and their education secretary, that this year’s GCE exams will not be credible due to the rather long absence from schools of students, the Minister said he was appalled that Reverend Sisters and priests are making utterances that are in clear contradiction to the last press release of the Episcopal Conference of Bishops.
“Do we have two Episcopal conferences of bishops” Bibehe inquired rhetorically. “How can bishops say the doors of their schools are open and you are telling us that you are neither prepared nor aware that your schools shall be accommodation centers?” he asked.
“Candidates Must Write!”
Concerning the authenticity and recognition of certificates internationally as well as the preparedness of students to sit for the exams, Bibehe was categorical that even though students had not been attending classes, they were no doubt revising their notes and studying at home. He made it sound like the students already completed their syllabus and only needed to write the GCE. The Minister did not mention how students who have missed nearly an entire academic year will cope with an exam that is perhaps one of the most decisive in
their entire life! He spoke derogatorily of parents, accusing them of jeopardizing the future of their children by keeping them at home. “Candidates who are prepared will write whether they were out of school or not. What we know is that the exams will remain credible,” he said.
In a smack of arrogance directed at the parents, the Minister rowed “What did you do to encourage them to go to school? You sat quiet, preferring to respect calls for ghost towns and information from those who had nothing to do with secondary education, intoxicating your minds with information that this academic year has been declared blank. On my part, I postponed the registration date for the exams four times and when you heard that we have maintained the dates, you start begging. There is no time now…”
Northwest Governor, Lele L’Afrique assured Minister Bibehe and education stakeholders that measures have been taken to ensure hitch-free examinations. He, however, added that “I cannot assure you that all GCE or BAC centers will have policemen or gendarmes. As such, we have to be vigilant and each play the role of security personnel.” The governor said those who are scared of attacks are those who know the attackers, hear him, “I don’t think men of God, priests or Christians should be afraid of ghosts. Others are calling for the withdrawal of troops, others for reinforcement. Is this normal? Others even say the security men should not be in uniform, will you also tell the ghosts to disguise?” Lele queried.
Some school authorities complained that most of the guards sent to their schools sleep for a better portion of their duty period, but the Regional Delegate of Secondary education, Victor Mombakwet said the situation was going to be addressed.
It is worth mentioning that of the 180,000 students who were expected to register for this year’s GCE Ordinary and Advanced Levels, only 40, 573 registered. Of the over 40,000 who registered, over 70% are from schools in Francophone Regions.
The scandalous announcement of unregistered students being permitted to sit for the exams has is giving many Anglophone Cameroonians more reason to question the seriousness of government in solving the burning crisis in the country. Most parents so far remain unyielding by the actions, threats and half measures the regime is about employing to force students to sit for the exams.
Some have remarked that the fact that state-run CRTV went on to openly announce that those willing to write will have their transport covered, demonstrates the desperation of a moribund regime at selling lies to the international community. Something they won’t be a part of, much less risking the lives of their children. “What future is there for my children when the same old people parade the corridors of power in this country?” one parent asked The Cameroon Journal bluntly.