By Hans Ngala, Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Cameroon Journal, Bamenda – The All Anglophone Teachers’ Trade Union which surreptitiously called off the strike action which teachers in Anglophone parts of Cameroon launched on November 21 2016, has for the first time, issued a statement vindicating itself from what it described as unfounded allegations that they were bribed into calling off the strike.
The statement that allegedly came from the trade union praised the Biya’s regime to have supposedly addressed all grievances that Anglophone teachers were raising.
The press statement from the Trade Union debunking the accusation that they took bribe, dated February 27th, a copy of which The Cameroon Journal got hold of, starts by intimating that the teachers were not under duress when they called off the strike on February 4th, 2017.
“Permit us inform public opinion in all sincerity that our suspension of the strike was under-propped by a number of well-meaning considerations…The fact that the eleven (11) grievances tabled before the Education Ad-hoc committee were stretched to more than nineteen (19) and rigorously analyzed was indeed comforting. Indeed a close look at the Ad-hoc resolutions, many of which are composite, will show that exactly forty-five (45) core issues were discussed and streamlined into short, middle and long term gains, together with at least six other issues that were not within the Education Ad-hoc’s competence to handle.”
The statement goes further into the nitty-gritty of what an Ad-hoc committee is and why it could not handle “non-educational issues.” “An Ad-hoc committee is a special committee set up to address a specific issue, after which it is dissolved. It goes therefore without saying that an ad hoc committee on education can handle only educational issues, not those of health nor of the economy, nor of the legal and/or judicial domains, nor of politics.” They argued.
The statement then takes a sudden twist, making its signatories to come across as the regime’s bootlickers – “the Government has been displaying some good faith in implementing some of the resolutions…” they say, and cites the progressive re-deployment of secondary and technical teachers whose respective languages are English and French into contexts where they can operate and function according to their training and competence. They said that the draft project to increase the number of specialties in English-speaking technical schools in the 2017/2018 academic year…, the creation of a Department of French Modern Letters and a litany of others are being also realized.
Given the blackout of internet services in the NW and SW Regions, the statement has not gotten to most of the intended audience. But those who got wind of it, expressed indignation speaking to The Cameroon Journal
“What kind of nonsense is this?” Asked an irate parent who refused to be named.” How on earth can they be giving us the impression that we do not know what we want? They want to now educate us on what an ad hoc committee is and what it is not?” he said, with visible anger. “What is all this baloney about ad hoc committee not being competent to handle political issues? If the “real teachers” who called for this strike say that the only true way that justice can be done to the Anglophone educational system is by the meeting of certain political demands, then where is the problem?” he asked rhetorically.
Another resident in Bamenda who simply called himself Marcel also questioned the seriousness and good fate of the teachers union.
“When they say secondary and technical teachers, what is the sense in that? Aren’t there secondary schools that are technical schools? Anyway, my problem is the way these teachers are not even commenting about their many colleagues whom this government has arrested and continues to arrest, and the many that are being tortured, but here they are with this hastily written thing telling us all is well..”
The teacher’s statement concludes with signatories distancing themselves from the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC), “We deem it necessary to make this clear: that all the teachers’ trade union leaders were not members of the Consortium. Those of us who resisted affiliating were driven by the conviction that as trade union leaders in charge of Basic and Secondary Education, we had to stay focused on educational issues , especially as our fundamental law, the 1998 Law of Orientation in Section 8 (pg.4) makes it clear that “Education shall be apolitical.”
It is signed by Valentine Semma for the Cameroon Teachers’ Trade Union, (CATTU), Ayeah Emmanuel for the Baptist Teachers’ Trade Union of Cameroon, (BATTUC), Afu Stephen for the Presbyterian Education Authority Teachers’ Trade Union, (PEATTU) and Tameh Valentine Nfon, National President of TAC.
It is worth mentioning that the Catholic Church has distanced itself from all activities of CATTU and the All Anglophone Teachers’ Trade Union, having stated categorically in a statement that their schools will remain closed until they feel that Government has satisfactorily addressed all pertinent issues, be they political or not.