The Bastardization of the University of Buea: Why Southern Cameroonians must fight to the end
Those who know the history of Anglosaxon Education and institutions in the Cameroons will tell you the price Southern Cameroonians paid to bring them into being. In a country that is supposedly made up of two peoples, equal in status, Southern Cameroonians have often gotten meaningful political and educational reforms only through agitations and bloodshed. The 1990s violent riots for the return to multiparty politics, the existence of the University of Buea and the Cameroons General Certificate of Education Board in the Cameroons today, is a sad reminder of the bloodshed and deaths encountered by the Southern Cameroons people in the streets of Bamenda, Buea and Yaounde. The continuous bastardization of these institutions, especially the Anglosaxon oriented University of Buea, becomes a propeller for Southern Cameroonians who understand the value of quality 21st century university education, to take the present revolutionary fight to its logical end.
Ever since the commencement of the Independence Restoration movement, activities at the University of Buea have been stand still, with mostly Francophone students on campus collaborating with the political administration and willing staff to debase the standards of the one time “Place to Be”. With the distortion of the school calendar, by the revolution, the interest of the present university administration appeared to be centered only around the certificates that must be issued at the end of the year, and not the quality or substance behind these certificates. Reason why the less than 3000 undergraduates on campus out of a total 12,000 student population are being rushed and pressured in the teaching-learning process, with highly questionable standards. You can imagine the Faculty of Social and Management Sciences, giving her MBA students less than three months to complete and submit their thesis, even without internet for research, just because the administration cannot afford to carry them forward with the next batch of students, for budgetary and logistic reasons.
Now, the University says they will be admitting students into the first year of the University for the 2017/2018 academic year, even without a pass in Ordinary Level English Language, provided they will sit for an intensive English Language program (which is often organized yearly for potential students from the francophone educational background). According to the University, they will also admit as low as 4 points for Advance Level holders. This decision was made following the catastrophic results of the 2017 Ordinary and Advance level political GCE that witnessed massive boycotts by Southern Cameroonians. It is also important to note that the content of this years final GCE results was a product of political interference and manipulation by the Colonial Minister of Secondary Education and her La Republique collaborators, who are bent on the complete destruction of the Anglosaxon educational values in Southern Cameroons
The decision by the University of Buea Administration to bastardize admission rules this year seriously contravenes the text creating the institution which stipulates; a compulsory pass in Ordinary level English for “Anglophones”.
While Southern Cameroonians, from face value consider the present decision of the administration to admit “Anglophones” without ordinary level English as good, given that it is something student leaders and other political forces have fought for over the years, it however keeps one wondering if due process was followed to arrive such a decision or it’s just a temporary measure to lure “unqualified” students into the university given the grossly low number of those seeking admissions for the new academic year.
Southern Cameroonians who study through out their nursery, primary and secondary education in the English Langauge cannot be refused admission into UB, an Anglosaxon University, while La Republique citizens who study through out in the French Language are admitted after a few weeks of an Intensive English Language Program. The normal thing would have been to leave the admissions open for all who show proof of studying in English as foreign universities do, rather than block English background students from getting admissions into the university. This discriminatory policy for years is part of the present crisis. At best, Southern Cameroonians who did not make it in Ordinary level English should have been given same opportunities as their La Republique du Cameroon counterparts for the intensive English course, as they now want to do.
The present revolutionary weather in the Southern Cameroons, coupled with the very red ordinary and advance level GCE results, are undoubtably what has driven UB to take the current position to admit without English Language, in violation of a 1993 Presidential text of application creating the University of Buea.
In a future Southern Cameroons Higher Educational System, the powers must be vested with the University to determine it rules and other issues, and not a text from someone far away in Yaounde. Now, in this current quagmire, we are tempted to ask the following questions
1. Did the University of Buea authorities get approval from the Presidency to waive that provision of a compulsory pass in ordinary level English for “Anglophones”? Remember not even the University senate, Council or even the Ministry of Higher Education in the present status quo can waive such a provision.
2. Has UB deliberately been marginalising Southern Cameroonians (Anglophones)? This is because, all attempts made by successive students’ union leaders and the South West Chiefs for the university to change this policy over the years have persistently been futile; as the university authorities always maintained that the decision is not theirs but that of Yaoundé. What therefore has changed today? Did the Presidency change the decree in hiding without the public knowing?
3. Reports say the number of students applying into the universities have dropped drastically and money to run the universities may not be there and so, they can’t rely on state subventions entirely. Is UB administration therefore sacrificing quality and standards on the alter of funds or money?
These are questions that must be answered because the one year long political crisis has shattered the educational foundation from nursery to the university levels. These are not sacrifices, but investments the people of Southern Cameroons have made, with the hope and conviction that it will yield a state of the art 21st century sustainable education system.
We will have to urgently fix it by making sure that, once schools are declared effectively open, the first step will be for every pupil and student to go back to his or her class as at November 2016, before making new reforms. This is the only way we can rescue the foundation of our educational heritage.
We shall certainly overcome in due time.
BaretaNews Political Analyst