By Timothy Mbeseha
The academic year 2016/2017 in what used to be British Southern Cameroons, today NW&SW regions of Cameroon has been on the spotlight more than ever before.
It is now a generally acceptable fact that this academic year has been in tumult. Since November 2016 schools (Primary, Secondary and universities) have been on strike.
The schools have in general been shut down for almost the whole academic year. It is established practice that in Cameroon with the exception of universities, Primary and Secondary and Technical schools start the academic year in mid September and end formal classes by mid May.
Universities generally will not effectively start until late October or early November. They too will in general end formal classes by late May.
The end of the academic year here like elsewhere in the world is supposed to be crowned by end of the year promotion and or graduation exams.
Needless to say here that school exams are in principle supposed to test the children on what they have learned during the academic year.
The situation in the NW&SW regions of Cameroon calls for an answer to the following question: Can students who did not effectively attend classes during most of the academic year be tested for promotion to the next level or graduate with valid academic credentials?
I think the answer to this question is overwhelmingly in the negative especially because home schooling is not practiced here.
The next question is why are students in the NW&SW being forced to write end of year graduation and promotion exams in spite of not having effectively attended school for almost the academic year?
In all school systems around the world in general and Cameroon in particular, formal schooling involves the parents, teachers and children. To this three must be added another group-the politicians who in principle formulate policies.
In many instances, teachers, parents and politicians cross boundaries in that many teachers are parents and some parents are also politicians.
I will come back to address the crossing of role boundaries but in this equation, the child is unique in that most (if not all) the children go to schools chosen for them by their parents.
They are taught by teachers assigned to them. Hardly does the child have a choice of his or her teacher. At the end of the school year, the child writes an exam set and graded by the teacher.
In this examination process, the child plays a limited but very significant role. He or she is supposed to be at the center of the whole exercise.
In other words all education actions must be tilted to benefit the child immediately and in future. in spite of these all what the child needs is to be told that he/she has successfully measured up to standard to qualify for a promotion to the next grade or earn a named certificate on graduation.
The child works hard to attain these goals set for him/her. It is unfortunate that in the academic year 2016/2017 the unfortunate school children who found themselves in the NW&SW have become political pawns or footballs in the hands of some of parents and teachers turned politicians.
The unfortunate children have become pawns being used as bargaining tools for politically ambitious teachers/politicians.
Otherwise what other explanation do we have for our own brothers/sisters in charge of schools and the famous GCE Board pretending that everything has been normal; so normal that the children who have been out of the classrooms for most of the school year can and should be forced to write end of year certificate and promotion exams for which they did not prepare?
How did these teachers lose their own credibility by not standing firm and telling their almighty boss/minister that examinations cannot be organized for children who did not attend school for the academic year in question?
How did the GCE Board administrators become so masturbated not to tell the Honorable Minister “NO” when he instructed them to organize exams and let whoever is interested walk in and take the examination?
In NW&SW most end of school year graduation examinations in secondary and technical colleges are supposed to be organized by the GCE Board.
One of the main reasons why the board was created and for which some people almost gave up the lives was to the take the organization of such exams out of the control of uncanny politicians who at different times for different reasons tried to manipulate the English Education System that is practically very different from the Francophone system.
It is precisely for these reasons that as far as the organization of examinations is concerned the Board is supposed to be independent of the Ministry though technically still under her control.
The technocrats who serve at different administrative levels of the ministry (Directors Delegate, Inspectors etc) and those in charge of the GCE Board are mostly all teachers. They are therefore the experts of experts in Education.
Most of them are well educated/trained in their different disciplines. Some of them attended some of the good schools mostly in Europe and the USA. They are supposed to be the closest aides of the Minister.
The Minister is supposed to depend on them for technical advice. What then went wrong in 2016/2017 academic year? What happened that our children are being forced to write end of year certificate and promotion exams given that they were out of school for most of the academic year?
How come that children are permitted to walk into examination halls and take exams without prior registration. The answer to this and other questions is simple. “THE MINISTER ORDERED IT” we are regularly told.
How come that our experts of experts in education caved in to such scandal? The answer again is clear. They did that to save their juicy positions and canvass for better ones in the future.
There is no other reasonable explanation for this degree of betrayal and outright sell out. Some of these very fellows have their own kids attending some of the best schools in developed countries around the world.
Can these people ever be forgiven for these heinous crimes committed against these unfortunate children? The answer to me is in the positive if and only if they repent.
Without repentance, it is my opinion that they deserve to be in hell where they will suffer eternal damnation.
They deserve to be nailed to the cross or publicly executed for the heinous crimes they have committed and continue to commit against their kith and keen.