Back to school again

EDITORIAL 23 Jul 2019
Back to school again

Once more, we are gliding towards another school resumption date, which usually falls in the early part of the month of September. The resumption of schools the world over has never constituted an issue to be contested. It is always period when the wider windows of knowledge are thrown open for a new generation to be groomed and tested in the process of equipping a nation towards its advancement. Any individual, group, or even the state that attempt to stand on the way of the movement towards this goal, must be condemned.
Unfortunately, this has been the situation in the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon. For almost three years, schools in these parts of the country have been crippled on account of the current social unrest. We can only describe the situation simply as social unrest in lighter mood. But in more serious terms, we are in the midst of a war which we in this Newspaper, have always wondered whether this country deserved such a calamity.
There have been constant, and sometimes, spontaneous attacks on schools, wounding, or even killing children, including the abduction of teachers. Common sense will always instruct that there can be no parent, with a conscience, who will voluntarily decide to keep his or her children at home, in preference to sending them to school. The bottom line is that the last three years have been stormy and shrouded in insecurity. It is therefore the fear of the safety of their children that has helped to paint this black picture of a strangled school system in these two regions of the country.
Without going too far afield, we immediately hold both government and the Ambazonians, or separatists, who happen to be the principal actors in the current acts of killings, burnings, abductions, and of course, their reluctance to dialogue, particularly the government, as far as the much talked-of issue of dialogue is concerned accountable. Whichever way one looks at the lagging back-to school drama, peace remains the panacea. Yet it is this same peace that we continue to ask ourselves whether we are getting any way near it.
The irony of it all is that neither government, nor the “Ambazonians” seems to hold the magic wand to this peace, as far as the school reopening issue is concerned. We say this with certainty, based on a recent statement by Chris Anu, the Ambazonian secretary of communications, who holds that “it is not our policy to continue to have schools shut down in Anglophone Cameroon. If we had our way, all schools would be opened and running”.
It only shows that, as the situation now stands, the separatists do not appear to have any form of control over what is happening on “Ground Zero” meaning that the Ambazonian authorities are equally helpless under this circumstance. Instead, they maintain that they will not advise parents, “seeing the prevailing circumstance, to put their children in harm’s way”. This is indeed not encouraging, but hope is not completely lost.
As if sincerely admitting their hopelessness in this situation, the separatists’ plan “B” is seen to be seeking the intervention of both the UN and UNESCO. First to the UN, the separatists are appealing for this world body to facilitate the process of back to school by declaring the entire Anglophone Cameroon a buffered zone, negotiate the pull-out of government forces, while the separatist fighters equally go on recess, and replaced by United Nations or ECOWAS peace-keeping forces. We think this bears some sense but it is easily said than done, as the saying goes.
For one thing, we do not see the government of Cameroon accepting this option as anything meaningful, knowing how much it values its perception of situations above any other opinion. Yet, we believe, just a little attachment to the necessity for our children to go back to school, at last, gives the government some pride of being sensitive to the views of others. We can only advice those running affairs of this country, not to focus their perceptions of things only on one direction but to work towards ensuring a lasting solution to our problem. We think we have had enough of the blood bath, the wanton destruction of property, the invasion of sacred premises, such as hospitals, and now the deprivation of the child’s right to education. We certainly crossed the borders of modesty into a terrain of barbarism. Enough is enough.

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