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Société Construire la démocratie à partir des problématiques locales - Democracy and the Minority Problem in the Domain of Education in Cameroon

Construire la démocratie à partir des problématiques locales - Democracy and the Minority Problem in the Domain of Education in Cameroon

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Index de l'article
Construire la démocratie à partir des problématiques locales
Democracy and the Minority Problem in the Domain of Education in Cameroon
Retrieving And Consolidating Values Of Anglo-Saxon Educational System
A chronological synopsis of the attempts at assimilating or annihilating the English Subsystem of Education in Cameroon
Toutes les pages

Democracy and the Minority Problem in the Domain of Education in Cameroon

- Silence in the midst of injustice is complicity. (Gina)
- We have all made mistakes, we cannot change yesterday but have a duty to change today and tomorrow. (Clinton)
- History may be false not only when lies are told, but also when essential facts are left out. (Bernard Fonlon)
- When you give a child bad food you cannot stop him from vomiting it out. (Tasi)
- No wise and honest father speaks to his children with water in his mouth, nor will kindle their fire, blowing with palm oil in the mouth.
- We hold the British Government responsible for our present plight. Firstly, your representatives in the then Southern Cameroons failed to give us the necessary guidance and direction during the events leading to the plebiscite of 11th February 1961. Dr. John Ngu Foncha, Prime Minister of Southern Cameroons had at that time advocated separate independence for Southern Cameroons, leaving the issue of reunification to be determined later. (Dr. A. B. Yongbang and elite N.W. Province)
For democracy to survive in Cameroon, we would need a radical change of attitude which will permit us to LOVE and RESPECT those who have opinions different from ours. Such a change of mentality is very important for both our internal and external politics. (Christopher Nsahlai, 1990).
- By various processes of intrigue and spite the Federal Republic was reduced to the United Republic which today has re-assumed its original status of the Republic of Cameroon...

Are we now a mere annexture or a conquered territory of the Republic of Cameroon? (Abert Mukong, 1990)
- When you frustrate and manipulate a gradual and peaceful evolution, sprawling development ensures and ends in a revolution (Tasi)
- C.A.T.U. is the master and catalyst while Rev. Father Tatah Mbuy, John Fodje and Tasi Ntang are parrots. (Tasi)

By the end of this presentation,
1. We will share ideas on truth, probity and dignity as well as democratic participation in sound constitutionalism as the foundation of all policy about the economic growth, social progress, sophistication and affluence in a functional democracy.
2. We will understand that reactive administrative sophism and political chicanery thwarted and still block openness, integrity, accountability and transparency as well as effectiveness and efficiency in our budding democracy. And that is why it is a non-functional democracy since dysfunctional problems lend to generalized state of inertia, government paralysis and political deadlock.
3. We will understand that covertly the assimilation of the Anglophone system, started in 1961 overtly in 1972 and even though there is lame legislation to describe the educational system as one with two sub-systems, intended to make-believe and calm down spirits, it is functionally one president, one prime minister, one minister, one director etc. and working in a horse/rider administration, minister riding a director/inspector, it is too centralized to be effective. The whole idea of respect for hierarchy compromises unity in diversity in favour of unity in frustrating uniformity. This encourages sycophancy, bootlicking and subservience. Unfortunately Anglophones are dancers while the players play their tune. It is only the French and English languages that suggest a difference and diversity.

Definition of Terms
Sprawling Development: Under normal wishes, plans and pro-activity, development means that a person, thing or situation evolves from good to better and to best. It becomes sprawling (ugly) development when inertia, paralysis and deadlock build dysfunctional conflicts.

Dysfunctional Situation: Most Cameroonians complain about their system. All Anglophones except those with booty and posts in their "mouths" complain the most.
Policy: In this paper policy refers to our constitution, laws on education and also decrees aretes and circulars that regulate the education business. Sophistication: A society, community or citizens of a country attain a level of sophistication when their policy, particularly on education enables them to attain a good level - understanding their culture, other world cultures and applying their knowledge to solve their problems.
Sophism: An argument which seems true but is intended to trick a people. In 1962 Ahidjo told Dr. Foncha to stay action on the transformation of CCAST Bambili into a university, advancing the point that it was advisable to concentrate in Yaounde in order to build and consolidate national unity which in a sprawling manner has assimilated and frustrated many Southern Cameroonians.

Functional Democracy: The UK and the USA are functional democracies because the citizens are at the centre of every government action. The rule of law, policy, affluence and sophistication for integrity, openness, impartiality, accountability and transparency as well as efficiency and effectiveness, are critical.
Unfortunately, Cameroon is a non-functional democracy. The masses complain; are frustrated and bedeviled by self-deluding, arbitrary and
Oppressive leaders who protect themselves. The parliament is lame, judiciary ampitted by the executive.

Chicanery: Political chicanery is the use of clever, unfair or dishonest method to trick a people in legal matters.
In 1961 a copy of the draft Federal constitution is said to have been given to Dr. Foncha very late, in fact in Foumban. In the Cameroon National Assembly statutory bills are given to parliamentarians a few hours to the first reading in a plenary so that in a rush, the will of the executive is passed into law. In 1998 the education orientation bill passed into law, describes our system as one with two sub systems, yet at administrative and pedagogic policy domains there is no commitment to qualify, quantify and differentiate the two sub-systems.
Today, we have four ministers each incharge of Higher Education, Secondary Education, Basic Education and Vocational Education and Training. Yet there is no Anglophone to advise/perfect consolidate the English sub system. This law is a good example of political chicanery intended to annihilate a system and assimilate its subjects. This situation is inimical to real peace and national unity.

Why Tasi Ntang Lucas to present this paper?
When I was contacted by phone by the organizers of this Public Conference to present a paper on Democracy and the minority problem in the domain of education in Cameroon I accepted for the following reasons:
- In 1961 I was in Form Two in Bali College where we were enthusiastic and excited doing French instead of Latin. Also, I lived the strains and stresses of Ibo domination in Abakwa.
- I have taught from Form One to Upper Sixth and from Sizième to Terminale. I also taught part time in the university for one year.
- I have been
(a) Vice Principal in CCAS Kumba and CCAST Bambili.
(b)Proviseur du Lycée d’Obala
(c) Principal, GHS Mamfe, GHS Limbe and GHS Kumbo.
(d) Deputy Director and later Analyst and Research Officer No. 1 in MINEDUC.
- I worked with Ministers Zachee Mongo So’o, Bidias a Ngon, Ndam Njoya, Rene Zenguelle, Mbella Mbappe (Late) George Ngango (Late) Joseph Mboui as Senior Education staff and with Mbella Mbappe, Etoundi Charles and Bappes Bappes as Member of Parliament.
- I was the first professional degree holder to teach in the Grand North.
- I was main challenger ie. Lead opposition MP in the Education Committee of Parliament for ten years (1997-2007).
- I am a Master Marshal of Examination Ethics International (E E M I) and our mission and vision is to decry what compromises validity, reliability, integrity and authenticity in education as a life and death utility and facility.
- I was in parliament and lived political chicanery and administrative sophism as our majority think the francophone system is made to look better than the Anglophone system, simply because it is a weakness to stand for what you know and lived, no matter how lame instead of finding out what you don’t know, no matter how good.
- I have lived some cross-cultural (Anglophone, Francophone) shocks. A French (my principal in C.E G de Mokolo) intimidated me in front of colleagues and students on our first encounter and I retorted. I once quarreled with a Minister in a meeting because he tried to intimidate over a G C.E. matter.

Therefore in the pages that follow, I will share my experiences and views with you. I hope that in God’s good time we build sound citizenship by dint of choice-making principles, because life is choice-making in properly articulated policy that gives due respect to diversity.
Question? Were enough stop gapes put in place to protect the English speaking minority from cultural assimilation and annihilation?
The Answer: The stop gaps were expressed in wishes later frustrated by bad faith.
Permit me to state that the educational policy (legislation, decrees, aretes decisions and circulars etc.) of every state, depends on the political option of that country. It is for this reason that a federal system of government was initially the idea which was never properly nurtured, analysed, consolidated and adopted by both parties -" La République du Cameroun and Southern Cameroons.” In all the pre-independence and pre-unification negotiations between the government of British Southern Cameroons led by Dr. John Ngu Foncha and Cameroon under French administration led by late Amadou Ahidjo, it was agreed that a Federation would be the form best suited to the state that would emerge from the eventual unification of the two distinct parts of Cameroon (Dr. Foncha speaking during Constitutional Consultative Committee December 1994.)
This was the political stop gap and rightly so because the educational system in every system is a function of the politics of the people. When you destroy the institutions cultural, economic and political that a people stand for, you destroy everything including their citizenship and patriotism reflected in their educational system.
In a functional democracy with a strong parliament, there is usually an Act of Parliament on Education. It is government’s sustainable paper for all ministers. A department of curriculum Development and Improvement is the technical service that sharpens the integrity of stakeholders of education in a sustainable manner, and since society is dynamic and evolves, measures are taken to pro- actively plan, direct and evaluate the situation in order to avoid sprawling development. School renewal is also sustainable in that all stakeholders participate.
Unfortunately in Cameroon, the political executive members who come and go are the powerful over the administrative executive of experienced professionals, most of whom leave when the Minister leaves. This is inimical to efficiency and effectiveness. In Cameroon we have had two presidents with close to 15 ministers in National Education and about six in Higher Education over a period of 54 years. The Minister turn-over, in the absence of good policy results in dysfunctional conflict-inertia, paralysis and deadlock.

Sprawling Collegiate Administration
We have a teaching staff deficit in most secondary schools particularly in rural areas. At the same time, there is a plethorat of Vice Principals and Senior Discipline Masters. Some High Schools have as many as 20 Vice Principals. We are at a loss to understand the reasons for this. In fact in the year 2012 G.H.S. Ako and G.H.S. Nwa each had 7 Vice Principals with one government teacher. The Parent/Teachers Association was left with responsibility, call burden of hiring part time teacher, i.e. Jobless Cameroonians who needed low wages to cope.
For that year G.B.H.S. Atielah, Nkwen had 11 vice principals, G.B.H.S. Bali, 13 and G.B.H.S. Bamendankwe about 12. These practices are certainly not healthy because a school principal will spend more of his time and resources on a few delicate people than on the whole school.
Dr. John Ngu Foncha the architect and peace lover (he loved peace to a fault) stated during the Constitutional Consultation Committee:
“In addition to assurances in this regime given to me in private by the leader of the French Cameroons, Mr. Amadou Ahidjo publicly stated to the people of Southern Cameroons during successive visits to that territory in 1960 and 1961 that reunification would not mean annexation, that is modalities would be negotiated between representatives of Southern Cameroons and those of La Republique du Cameroun and that to render unification viable and useful, a flexible and Federal form of the state which he described as unique and diverse was envisaged” (Foncha 1994).
Ladies and Gentlemen could there have been a better political safeguard than this constitutional arrangement. Today, the trick is that Cameroon is a decentralized unitary state. You can now understand why it is an idea and not a reality. The centre will continue to laud it up over the regions. The schools and the school system will continue to exist under dysfunctional conflict where inertia, paralysis and deadlock will continuously haunt us.

Educational Stop Gaps
In 1963, Dr. Foncha craved the indulgences of Ahidjo to see the need for vision before action to avoid confusion and illusion in the Federal Education System. He was empowered to be the chair of the National Council for Education which like most institutions, committees and even parliaments in non-functional democracies, particularly in a presidentialist system like ours, in Cameroon, “Le chien aboit et la caravane passe”. A committee was set up to visit the two systems. Their frank and constructive debate was blocked by the participants’ inclination to protect what they knew better and were used to - thus rendering a sense of critical thinking, impartiality, aesthetics and integrity impassible. There was never a political follow up and if the 1963 National Education Council on Education meant anything - it was discourse, declarations and made-believe policy with such unpleasant but also vexing statements like harmonization. How do you harmonize citizenship, esteem, character, vocational skills and democracy? These values are sharpened in every educational system by dint of choice-making, unity in diversity, anchored on a good constitution and sound education policy. When a constitution is tailored to suit a regime, re-arranged by a properly planned crushing majority in a lame parliament, the unintended consequences are sad. In reactive administration and politics by intrigue the strong in numbers and material things crush and assimilate somewhat annihilated the weak. But was the Southern Cameroons weak in human and material resources? Did they look at unification as two entities or not?

État Généraux Syndrome: When Yaounde plays host to educators from the regions in the name of États Généraux, the overt mission is to build synergy in make-believe discourse and declarations. The real intention is to give instructions.
The resolutions taken and reports made are occupational therapy for theory as individual ministers go about their reactive business without due regard for stability, sustainability and efficiency.
What we need in Cameroon is a special National Education Council (Forum) that takes on board all education stakeholders (government, parents, employers, clergy, international partners) to articulate on issues to be sanctioned by the legislature.
Lame stop Gaps (Vice Minister Syndrome). For some decades the political executive of the Ministry of National Education included a Francophone Minister, an Anglophone Vice Minister and later called Secretary of State and an administrative executive mainly Francophones with one or two directors and a host of Anglophone assistant directors. It took an energetic Vice Minister who did good advocacy to push the Anglophone cause forward. In fact, it has gone down in history that the duo that worked in esteem, integrity and dignity thus worked for national unity was Ndam Njoya and Dorothy Njeuma. This writer captured with attention the expression from the mouths of most Directors, “Il faut que Madame le Vice Ministre voit le dossier.” (Make sure the Vice Minister is informed). This duo apart, what I saw and lived was overwhelmed ministers, doing the work and the vice minister/Secretary of State, featuring only in cabinet meetings - occupying a place of grace and honour on the high table and in fact doing no work. You could see it on their faces. In their offices you saw their clean desks as opposed to the piles of files on the minister’s table and sometimes on the floor.
I can see Vice Minister Martin Luma (Late), Madame Eko, Enyih Paul Atogho, and Yonga Teghen as the last Anglophone Vice Minister/Secretary of State.
Since the split of the Ministry of National Education into four ministries Vocational Training and Empowerment, Basic Education, Secondary Education and Higher Education, there is no Anglophone who can timidly or energetically make suggestions on how to build, ameliorate, protect and sustain the Anglophone sub system. What a shame! For a God given nation like Cameroon with enormous resources that can best be exploited to ensure sophistication, affluence and emergence so that national unity is ensured and lasting peace consolidated. Annihilation and assimilation breed suspicion, fear and hatred. It is a time bomb that explodes in due time.
Political Chicanery: In 1998 government tabled a bill on education orientation in Cameroon, declaring that it is a system with two sub-systems - corresponding to the Anglophone and francophone cultures. It was passed into law. Unfortunately this make-believe policy statement is not impartially executed. One would have expected government to plan an organizational chart that makes commitment to protect these two sub systems in qualifiable, quantifiable managerial administrative and pedagogic terms. The absence of other education stakeholders (employers, parents, civil society etc.) in school renewal is cause for concern. This is tantamount to political chicanery. This sad practice is said to build national unity and peace is explained in administrative sophism ie. The use of declarations and made-believe language to assimilate a people.

What about Higher Education?
You were silent on this area but there is a lot amiss and anomalous concerning higher education. We all know the story of Yaounde I and how Anglophones suffered from academic torture because of language, educational approach and syllabus differences. They were expected to adopt to the BACC+ system.
Buea and Bamenda are said to be Anglo-Saxon - that is made-believe because Anglo-Saxon universities are autonomous. Their affiliates obey the give/give and win/win participation. The Minister of Higher Education has a grip on the VCs and Rectors. They are called Vice Chancellor in English and Recteur in French. The relationship between state universities and private universities in pure Anglophone Saxon countries is a win/win relationship. In some of the private universities, seasoned retirees bow to young lecturers and professors from state universities as a coping strategy because the state university has to sign the degree certificates from the private university until they graduate to a level to sign their own degrees.
We want to thank Anglophones (moral and physical person) like Late John Ngu Foncha, Yong Francis, the Catholic Mission, Presbyterian Mission etc. for opening universities in order to reduce the number of Cameroonians leaving the country to further their education abroad. They have already reduced the incident of frustrated students in the state universities where the human touch is not good enough.

What should have been done? The way forward
From the abstracts to the issues so far raised in this paper, the way forward is simple and clean. What is wrong either for lack of vision should or for suspicious reason should be corrected. Generalized corruption, embezzlement, misappropriation and kleptomania as well as state of inertia, government paralysis and political deadlock can find solution in sound constitutionality, parliamentary strengthening, judicial independence, good elections, sophisticated citizens without which arbitrariness, oppression and repression by a few strong leaders, plunder the resources, aggravate, suspicion and hatred. Emergence will remain slogans. This is inimical to peace, national unity, economic growth, social progress and environmental protection.
Over the years Anglophones who have lived a culture of peace and have a conviction in the force of good argument have decried: “The constitution which I have held and preached as the supreme law of the land is in many respects being ignored or manipulated”. (Foncha, 1994)
“I feel distressed that the constitutional proposals put before this committee do not offer the opportunity for us as a nation to address our minds to, an dissolve the genuine and legitimate grievances of the Southern Cameroonian people in particular, and Cameroonians people in general. I feel all the more distressed: that this should be happening under the chairmanship of a son of Southern Cameroons whom I believe is as sensitive as any one of us to the injustices his people and their territory have suffered in more decades. Today a son of Southern Cameroons Simon Achidi Achu has been designated to preside over the completion of the progress of annexation.” (Dr. Foncha 1994)
“We the undersigned Cameroonians resident in the United States of America after duly examining the socio-political and economic situation prevailing in our country; observe with dismay the absence of the rule of law in the whole country.
- Regret in particular the 1972 change of the Federal Constitution unilaterally abolishing the federation which was the basis of the union.
- Regret the non-challant attitude of the head of state in not heeding to the appeals from the peace-loving English speaking population in their desire to keep the country one as they had opted in the 1961 plebiscite (USA group 1986).
- “By various processes of intrigue and spite the Federal Republic was reduced to the United Republic which today has re-assumed its original status.”
“Are we now a mere annexture or a conquered territory of the Republic of Cameroons” (Albert Mukong, 1986).

In conclusion, action without vision is confusion and illusion.
A minority in numbers but a very active population, with brilliant minds, living in an area with rich natural and mineral resources; in general accountable and open peace lovers, should not be taken for granted. We know that of the four major world systems - Anglo-Saxon, continental, Arabic world and the East the one that believes in knowledge and are pacesetters in good governance, science and management, are Anglo-Saxons. The exception should not be Cameroon. We appeal to self-deluding political leaders to relax on the psychosis, call it syndrome of party discipline that has aggravated electoral dictatorship (crushing majority) and divided the Anglophones. The cries are many and touch on all domains of national life - education, civil society, press, elections, legislative strengthening, judicial system, executive good governance and sound constitutionalism. The very fact that some Francophones choose the Anglophone sub system of education for their children and wards is evidence that the two rivers can flow freely without strains and stresses. The constitution of Cameroon will be rewritten in God’s good time. Political chicanery will cease and sophistication will replace sophism. We can make good in life with two systems in education, the practice of law. I once told a minister not to force “miondo” on the Beti nor “bobolo” on a Sawa. It is foolhardy to think that we have not drawn inspiration from francophones in our economic growth and social progress. In fact, francophones, particularly our brothers from the West Region are very competitive, hard working, ingenious, ambitious daring and steadfast as individuals. They are path-finding and invest in education and knowledge. They are long suffering and patient and are willing to repeat the BACC several times even if it means going from region to region and sometimes as far afield as to Chad, Gabon and Central African Republic. They listen and capture information about “concours” and prepare to write them. In this regard Anglophones have to work hard and limit the degree of blame culture which gives the impression that the environment has to be totally flat and enabling before we work. As for me I strongly believe in a federal system and not the mish-mash we today call “Cameroon as a decentralized unity state”. God save Cameroon.
Tasi Ntang Lucas, Cette adresse email est protégée contre les robots des spammeurs, vous devez activer Javascript pour la voir.
Bamenda, 30/04/2014

Notes and References
1. The Cameroon Constitution (1960, 1961, 1972 and 1996)
2. Albert Mukong: Case for the Southern Cameroons (USA 1990) John Ngu
3. Dr. John Ngu Foncha: A Resignation Letter from the CPDM 9th June 1990.
4. Dr. John Ngu Foncha: Speech during the Constitutional Consultative Committee in December 1994.
5. Christopher Nsahlai: Look up to the Mountain Top.
6. N.N. Mbile Langaa: Research and Publishing CIG, Mankon - Bamenda Cameroon Political History. Authentic Eye witnesses.

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