The Mancho Bibixy And Agbor Nkongho School Campaign: A misplaced priority
Barrister Agbor Balla, Mancho Bibixy and a host of others are launching a campaign for back to school. The same thing was done two years ago and yet the same results. The issue here is not back to school and I am not sure that any Southern Cameroonian will logically refuse back to school. The fundamental of the issues is being neglected. It’s not enough calling Separatist Fighters and Cameroun Forces to create an enabling environment. Some have raised arguments that Churches, Markets and other activities are going on why not schools. This argument is very lame. First and foremost, there is nothing like effective school resumption because the aspect of schooling alone brings lots of other activities in play. We have seen situations where markets are forced to closed because of gunshots and as a result of the running left-right of market occupants, we have seen a situation where members going to church are forced to turn back and some laying down inside the church because of gunshots. We have seen taxi men and occupants in a taxi shot when commotion happens in town. So imagine children going to school and there are gunshots and commotion, the first thing is that the running left and right will cause accidents and death will eventually follow. The problem is that people are still thinking that we are in a war-free zone.
For the past years in some major cities in Southern Cameroons, schools have been going on without any disturbances and recently the GCE went on well as well as the marking, Separatist fighters said nothing because it is not a focal point anymore. Those campaigning for effectively school resumption are not sincere. You are not sincere because there can’t be any effective school, not in a war tone area and you know these truths. In big cities, there can be a school but fighting there is sporadic and you know what effective school means with sporadic fighting happening. In the villages and communities, it’s an entirely different ball game on its own because the situation is even worst. We must accept the consequences of the war.
Some have quoted the Syrian example of children going to school. I think a little bit of research must be done here. There are thousands of Syrian families who have migrated away from Syria as a result of the war. In our case, many have migrated as well but in all essence, we can’t compare both situations. In Syria, those who stayed back managed to study under controlled government areas and controlled rebel areas. Can we really pinpoint controlled separatist areas or Cameroun Forces areas where it’s a safe zone and schooling can go on as it used to be? There is none because of the polarity of the fight and the scorched earth policies of Cameroun Forces. Separatist fighters are still guerilla, you never know the area of attacks. Imagine school children coming back from school normally as it used to be and fighting broke out. Knowing Cameroun Forces you know where their anger will be.
So each year out, people launched campaigns about school resumption, some saying effective school resumption. Effective school resumption or any other activities can happen only when the war is over unless there is a typically controlled area of any of the forces. Let’s be sincere with our selves. Look at Buea Diocese, they have relocated their schools from Sasse, Muea, Muyuka, Bojongo all to Mutengene or Tiko because in these areas they can be controlled security which is not even certain. You cannot guarantee security in any of the above areas what more of Batibo, Nwa, Ekona Etc.
Also, people must differentiate between schooling and education. At this time, no one should be campaigning for school resumption. What we must do especially in areas where schooling is not going on is to encourage some form of education. We should talk about how to educate kids during wartime not how to open schools. There is no truce yet or some form of agreement between opposing forces. Education is a right but schooling is a choice and the aspect of schooling is subject to the prevailing security situation. Take note that even the reasons why school boycott happened purely for educational reasons have not been attained. It has gotten even worst.
Also, the arguments that those migrated over to French Cameroun for education enriches Cameroun Government is lame. The cost of securing a child life in Ambazonia when fighting broke out is more important than the economic gains Cameroun gets from those who migrated there to study. The cost of securing Ambazonia is more important than the economic cost Cameroun makes from those who migrated there for education. Migration happens daily, people migrated for various reasons, war being one of them. Ambazonia will not be an exception.
Going forward what must we do to educate people who are still in the war tone areas?
1. Separatists movements have no more embargo on schools functioning. If you noticed that has been the case for more than a year now and the decision has simply be left for parents to decide. The continuous nagging about school resumption aches most of the fighters who dropped out from schools if we must know. Access the security of your area and make an informed decision
2. The aspect of schooling can only be possible in safe zones and all campaigns should be geared towards creating those safe zones. And that means forcing both parties on the table. I want to see campaigns to save the life of children and Ambazonians killed. I want to see Campaigns to force Cameroun to end hostilities and dialogue and I want to see campaigns to help those in bushes. That is the first campaign so that even those trapped in bushes can have the opportunity to get that education too.
3. As the aspects of schooling become difficult in over 80 percent of areas in Southern Cameroons, we must be looking at creating programs that educate our children even in those difficult areas, not schooling. Pilots programs away from traditional schooling. Those are projects campaigners should be thinking.
4. Work hard to get a truce so that some areas are no going zone. In other war areas, fighters by their own might develop these buffer areas, some through joint agreements but in our case we still very much sporadic
5. Encourage separatist fighters in their areas of some form of control to make it possible and put in place special forces to guarantee kids study or get involved in pilot education programs. Let us not sit and think that effective school resumption can just happen. Those campaigns are vexing because it deviates from the core issues. Education is a right but human life is supreme.