After authorities of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, PCC, those of the Catholic Church have now also announced that they are in favour of effective resumption of classes come September when the 2017/2018 academic year is expected to begin.
The position of the Catholic Church on the back-to-school issue was made known through a correspondence dated July 8, 2017 and addressed to catholic education secretaries of the Bamenda ecclesiastical province which comprises the archdiocese of Bamenda and the dioceses of Kumbo, Kumba, Mamfe and Buea. The correspondence follows a lengthy statement issued a day earlier by the Parents/Teachers Association of the Bamenda ecclesiastical province also calling on parents to send their children to school at the start of the fresh academic year in September.
As reported by The Guardian Post’s MacDonald Ayang, the bishops’ correspondence sent to their education secretaries is signed by the chairman of the Bamenda ecclesiastical provincial conference, BAPEC, His Lordship George Nkuo of Kumbo.
It reads in part: “Following the appeal of the parents and teachers association of the ecclesiastical province of Bamenda on Friday 7 July at Bamenda that parents (should) send back their children to all the catholic educational institutions as from the beginning of the 2017/2018 school year, the bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Bamenda hereby instruct the education secretaries of the same province to take all the measures required for a smooth start of the 2017/2018 school year and to see to it that interviews and admissions into all catholic schools and colleges begin on Friday 15 July.”
The Anglophone bishops in their letter also recalled that as stated in their communiqué of 8 February, 2017, “the catholic church has the mandate from her divine founders to go out and teach all nations…” Meanwhile, the Parents/Teachers Association of the Bamenda ecclesiastical province in their letter dated Friday July 7, also strongly argued why there was need for parents and guardian to ensure that their children do not lose another academic year.
Making a panoramic chronicle of what has now been termed the Anglophone crisis, the authors of the document, which was signed by nine signatories, wrote in part: “…there is need for greater solidarity for the common good. We think that using schools and school children in this struggle should be reconsidered and other ways of making our voices heard on the Anglophone problem, be sought. If losing a school year has not made the point, we don’t think that losing a second year will. Besides, using schools as a weapon in the struggle places a disproportionately heavy burden on the poorest and most vulnerable persons in our community…”
They then urged: “…we are of the opinion that parents and guardians (should) send back their children to all the catholic educational institutions as from the beginning of the 2017/2018 school year. Our bishops have told us repeatedly in their pronouncements since this crisis started that they have never closed the schools. We thank them for this and we earnestly appeal to them to ask our head teachers and principals to begin admission of pupils and students into the various classes of our schools from July 2017…”
Late last week, it emerged that the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon had instructed head teachers and principals of its schools and colleges to announce that all the pupils and students would be promoted to the next class and that measures should immediately be taken to make for a successful forthcoming academic year beginning September. It would be recalled that schools in the North West and South West regions were paralysed for almost the entire academic year following a strike by Anglophone teachers that started on November 21, 2016.
The strike which was prompted by calls for sweeping reforms in the education sector came on the heels of another industrial action by Common Law lawyers which had gone underway about a month earlier. The bitterness within the two professional corps soon degenerated into a generalised socio-economic malaise which has since made life virtually sour in the Anglophone regions. Many are in jail in connection to the crisis and it remains unclear when the deadlock will effectively be broken.