Nationalisation of Schools, Sacking of Teachers, Banning of Some Churches and Declaration of State of Emergency
By Policarp Ashu and John Ndiba
Very important sources report President Paul Biya has retreated to Mvomeka, with huge files on measures to address the Anglophone imbroglio. There are indications of significant stringent measures being considered by government to break the deadlock by forces that have held the South West and North West regions hostage. Tough measures on the President’s table are indicative of the bellicose tone of his speech on February 11, 2017 in which he strongly condemned the abuse of children’s right to education by extremists and echoing the need of the State taking its responsibility to correct issues relating to education and proliferation of lawlessness. Sources indicate that plans are far advanced on the following four measures.
(1) Nationalisation of Private Schools and Colleges: According to an official in the Ministry of Secondary Education, 'there are no two governments in a given country. Education is a public social good and the responsibility of the state. However, the state of Cameroon has co-opted partners to realise this mission.' 'Children in the English-speaking regions of the country are being refused the fundamental right to education by parents and teachers, accompanied not only by absentee teachers who are still being paid by the state but also by threats to life and property from subterranean hoodlums.' He further added that, 'the private sector, both religious and lay-private, have frozen the salaries of their teachers, increasing the pauperization of their employees.' Building on the recent public pronouncements by the chairman of the Ad-hoc Commission on Education that the strike has been called-off by trade unionists but full-fledged school resumption particularly in the north west region is been hampered by civil disobedience, stringent measures are reported to have been recommended to the presidency to thwart the civil disobedience through nationalisation and bans. Unimpeachable sources reveal recommendation to overcome the force majeur in the educational sector is the withdrawal of the licenses of private schools in the regions that have failed to begin full teaching services to their clients. This will be followed up by immediate nationalisation of such schools and flood them with government appointed teachers, as well as automatic recruitment of existing private teachers and principals of these schools and colleges as government employees. Committees shall be appointed to manage leading boarding schools such as St Joseph’s College Sasse and ensure their smooth operation until September.
(2) Withdrawal of the licenses to operate of some Christian churches. Sources indicate, top on the list is the Presbyterian Church, where the Moderator and Pastors have been reported spewing hate-speech against francophones and the government from their pulpits. In a fiery Sermon in Mbonge in Meme Division, the moderator called on Christians to disobey the State. The Ministry of Territorial Administration, sources reveal, is expected to sign and publish these measures. An edict is further expected to be published reprimanding some priests in the Catholic Church, as well as Pentecostal pastors who were similarly identified and reported preaching politically related information in their parishes and churches. Security forces have collated volumes of documents with thousands of persons identified to bear the full force of the law.
(3) Sacking of recalcitrant government teachers. Census is currently undergoing in government schools and colleges, as well as in the universities of Buea and Bamenda and their allied institutes. This has been mandated from higher quarters, with the expectation of disciplinary measures based on the labour code. This will come as a shocker, particularly to University teaching staff, some of whom may be sacked outright with the opportunity of reapplying.
(4) Declaration of State of Emergency and enforcing maximum security in the North West Region. Government is on full alert with troops stationed in Baffousam. The failure of leading elites in this region to rein-in dissenting voices and exert control is provided as rationale for this recommendation. Elites of the North West region have failed to lend strong support to government’s implementation of the 1996 constitution. There are reports most elite from this region are suspected and monitored. The curfew accompanying the State of Emergency is expected to be instituted between 6 pm and 6 am daily, and intensifying the arrests of rebellious persons. This will call for additional measures affecting the South West Region also, such as restricting mobile telephone calls at night hours. Internet shall be reinstated but confined to CAMTEL fixed telephone lines using satellite services of CAMTEL's foreign partners.
According to a civil society activist, 'these measures are expected to have short-term and long-term effects in the communities, with the overriding outcome being to snuff-out dissent and ensure smooth return to civility.' Other sources reveal, this stalemate has delayed the appointment of a new Prime Minister to better manage the affairs of the state. It is expected that an appointment of a new Prime Minister with political pedigree and signing of series of measures agreed in the ad-hoc commissions for education and law will significantly address the grievances of the Anglophone community.
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