Mishaps of War: The Emergence of an Uneducated Generation in the Anglophone Regions of Cameroon

By Enjema Nenne Esunge and Jaff Bamenjo

It’s been six years since 16-year-old Rachel Fonyuy last saw the four walls of a classroom. Rachel is a native of Mbokam, a village in Bui Division of the Northwest Region of Cameroon. Due to the ongoing conflict in the Northwest and Southwest English-speaking regions of Cameroon, Rachel, like many other pupils in these regions had no choice but to abandon her education since most schools have been closed. Rachel was in class 3 in primary school when this neglected armed conflict started in 2017. Most schools, and houses in this region now lie derelict, covered by grass and weeds. While in her village, Rachels’s grandfather was worried, that she might get caught up in one of the gun battles between the military and armed separatists just like many other young girls who have unfortunately lost their lives in such circumstances.

In December 2022, Rachel fled from her native Mbokam and is now living with a host family in Yaoundé, the political capital of Cameroon where she is now a babysitter. Rachel currently has high hopes of continuing her education and her host parents are very willing to send her to school to acquire knowledge. But being out of school now for so many years, Rachel faces a lot of challenges coping. After staying with her host family for nine months, her host parents enrolled her to pursue holiday classes during these 3-month summer holidays in Cameroon. Their idea is for Rachel to write the First School Leaving Certificate Examination which consecrates completion of the primary school in Cameroon. Rachel is facing difficulties coping due to the 3 years school gap since she abandoned school. Her current classmates are younger than her and she feels awkward being in the same class with her juniors who are even more apt than her in following and understanding the lessons. Rachel wants to be a hairdresser in future but feels that having basic education is still important for her future career.

It is very sad that guns have basically replaced books in most parts of the English-speaking regions of Cameroon and the emergence of an uneducated generation is the outcome. Many children in these regions have missed school for 6 years and only some parents who can afford have been able to enroll their children in schools in the French-speaking part of the country. According to UNICEF, more than 600000 children have been affected by school closures in the Anglophone region of Cameroon with most schools transformed into camps or hideouts for armed separatists. unlike Rachel who now have a glimmer of hope to be enrolled in a school, many children in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon do not have such opportunities and will hardly catch up on the lost years as this crisis persist.

In sum, the future of many pupils in the Northwest and Southwest Anglophone regions of Cameroon has been jeopardized. Completing primary school now remains a far-fetched illusion for many children. Like Rachel, many children only have broken dreams and shattered visions.

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