By Macdonald Ayang, November 21, 2016
Cameroon Journal, Yaounde – The strike action that goes underway today means the doors of nursery, primary, secondary and other institutions of higher learning are expected to remain shut until further notice.
In a statement issued Thursday after a meeting in Mamfe, leaders of the teachers’ syndicates managing the protest called on pupils, students, parents and other citizens sympathetic to their cause, to stay indoors and don’t foment trouble, so as to avoid any bloody clash with overzealous and gun-toting security officers already deployed everywhere in major towns of both Regions to brutalize whoever takes to the streets.
“The strike is peaceful…we expect all children to stay at home as from Monday 21 November 2016 until a permanent solution is given to our demands. Our action is meant to protect successive generations of Anglophone children from the continuous frustration imposed by the current system of marginalisation” the statement read in part.
The teachers also denounced “all principals, government officials, proprietors of schools threatening or intimidating and obstructing the legitimate aspirations of the Anglophone people, warning that “the social and moral consequences of disrupting the teachers’ strike cannot be avoided.”
The syndicate leaders, in their communiqué, warned further: “We shall name and shame any person promoting, supporting or abetting the marginalisation of Anglophones through acts of intimidation and betrayal.”
“(We) denounce all the petty government officials who have hatched a diabolical plan to hire some traditional rulers to come out in a protest march against our strike on that day (referring to today). The violation of our sacred institutions and the use of some of our traditional rulers as puns is most unfortunate. We urge our people to be vigilant and not to sell the destiny of their children for any price” read another portion of the teachers’ statement.
The infuriated teachers also slammed the chairmanship of Fame Ndongo in a committee recently created by Prime Minister Philemon Yang to look into their problems, labeling the university don as a “problem” himself:
“We reject the chairmanship of Prof. Fame Ndongo. He has always been a major part of the problem of Anglophones, both in his declarations and action…he was the one who used grandiose phrases to institute and justify the harmonisation of Anglophone universities with Francophone universities even after such an experiment had failed in secondary education…all the resolutions taken during our last encounter with him on January 4, 2016, have since been discarded…”
To them, dialogue can only be accepted should “another government Minister, possibly the Minister of Culture, be appointed to chair the inter-ministerial committee since the issues being discussed are within the purview of his Ministry.”
Amongst the teachers’ cumulated grievances is government’s continuous attempt to ‘francophonise’ schools in the two Anglophone Regions of the country. The teachers are also demanding the withdrawal and re-posting of all French-speaking teachers from Anglophone classrooms with the exception of bilingual teachers as well as the withdrawal of Francophone lecturers and administrators from the Anglo-Saxon universities of Bamenda and Buea and their colleges of education.
They are equally asking government to withdraw and re-orientate all Francophones reading English Modern Letters in Higher Technical Teachers Training College, HTTTC, Bambili and other schools of education in Cameroon to Departments where they have an academic background as well as the recruitment of competent Anglophones to teach in various Departments of Colleges and Faculties of the University of Bamenda.
The protest is unprecedented as it is the first time Anglophone teachers from the nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary levels are downing their tools, at the same time, in an indefinite industrial action.
The strike action championed by one of Cameroon’s largest teachers’ groupings, dubbed “All Anglophone Teacher Trade Unions”, comes months after members of the union had cabled a letter to the Prime Minister, notifying him of their grievances.
In a most recent letter to the Prime Minister dated October 26, declaring the strike action, the teachers said their decision to embark on the industrial action was sequel to the ongoing lamentable situation whereby Anglophones are continuously being denigrated, subjugated and treated as a colonized people, “while our children are groomed for slavery.”
Now that the teachers are bent on going on with their strike action, it remains to be seen what steps government would take next.