By Mua Patrick, January 9, 2017
Cameroon Journal, Yaoundé – Schools are scheduled to reopen their doors today across the national territory but the situation in the two English-speaking Regions of the country remains uncertain following calls from the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium for a Ghost Town to be observed. The ghost towns will paralyzed any attempts by teachers and students to return to school.
Going by a clarion call from the consortium, campuses are expected to be deserted while streets remain empty in towns across the North West and South West Regions.
“Teachers, lawyers, students, taxi drivers, commercial bike riders, business operators-everyone must stay at home on Monday January 9, 2017 and bear in mind that our strike is still on.” The Consortium announced in a statement last week.
The battle by government for an effective school resumption in the North West and South West Regions has been unbending even as teachers have stood their grounds that school activities will only return to normal after all their demands have been properly addressed.
In what many have been quick to describe as a “desperate attempt” by government to ensure that pupils and students return to school today, administrative authorities last week convened meetings in the divisions during which education stakeholders were reportedly intimidated to ensure that schools resume today in the North West and South West Regions.
In yet another spectacular move, government, last weekend, signed a decision redeploying Anglophone teachers to schools in the North West and South West Regions. The move comes in fulfillment of one of the pressing demands of the striking Anglophone teachers.
In another desperate attempt to sweet-talk the Teachers’ Union leaders to call off the strike, Secondary Education Minister, Jean Ernest Massena Ngalle Bibehe, spent all of last weekend in Bamenda but the striking teachers held their grounds.
The Cameroon Journal at press time yesterday, was yet to confirm reports that huge sums of money had been doled out to traditional rulers in the North West and South West Regions by government emissaries as part of efforts to ensure that schools reopen today hitch-free.
Reports have it that one of such meetings that was staged in Ndu, in Donga Mantung Division, North West Region, ran into a storm when traditional authorities arm-twisted to attend it told the DO to his face that they cannot be tasked to
call off a strike they didn’t organize. The chiefs were vehement that even if they ask their subjects to send their children to school, they, the traditional authorities cannot overnight go to class and start teaching.
Striking teachers unbended
Meanwhile despite government’s use of both intimidation and plea to woo the teachers back to class, the situation remains gloomy. In a series of press statements issued last week, teachers maintained that the ongoing strike action will only be called off when all of their grievances are met.
Following the collapse of the Bamenda dialogue last December, the teachers are now accusing government of demonstrating bad faith in resolving the crisis.
In a January 4, communiqué issued by the Anglophone Civil Society Consortium, the members were unanimous that “Ever since lawyers and teachers of West Cameroon raised critical issues relating to their existence, government has not taken any concrete steps to resolve them.”
The Consortium, they said, is calling on the general public of West Cameroon to stand up like one man and embark on a sit in strike today Monday January 9.
“We must stand together and continue our peaceful resistance until the demands of the lawyers and teachers tabled, relating to our existence have been satisfactorily addressed,” wrote the Consortium in a statement that was issued after a crucial gathering in Bamenda last Friday.
In yet another statement issued Friday January 6, members of the Consortium reiterated that the ongoing strike action called by lawyers and teachers of North West and South West origin in October and November are still in full force.
They have meanwhile vowed that schools would remain close from Nursery to University levels in the two Anglophone Regions until government takes concrete steps to address issues raised by the various groupings.
“These issues affect the indigenous communities of West Cameroon and must be looked into. These issues have been our burden for over five decades and must be resolved now,” a portion of the statement reads.