Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cameroon: The right to quality education denied?

The right to education is a basic right enshrined in key human rights instruments duly ratified by the Republic of Cameroon, but for many young people, mostly in remote areas in the central African country, the right to quality education is a myth.

A video posted on YouTube shines the spotlight on a broken educational system in Cameroon and puts into question the government's commitment to equip young Cameroonians with the tools needed to compete in a global world.

The sorry-state of the Government High School in the above video is shocking and the determination of the teachers and parents to provide better conditions for students in the school is commendable.

Education is a vehicle out of poverty. It is impossible to see how a country would develop and lift its people out of poverty without investing in quality education for children, both boys and girls.

The government of Cameroon has made commendable strides to promote education. There are many relatively good public schools in the country and outstanding private schools that provide top-notch education for young Cameroonians. Like a good number of Cameroonians, I was lucky to attend one of the best and well-equipped schools in Cameroon.

However, children in "forgotten" parts of Cameroon like Kitiwum seeking quality education are equally Cameroonians. Their right to quality education should be equally guaranteed without discrimination.

In January 2011, Cameroon ratified the African Youth Charter. Article 13(1) of the Charter clearly states that:

"Every young person shall have the right to education of good quality.

The right to education is also expressly stated in Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) TO WHICH Cameroon is a party.

The state should fulfill its obligation under international law by providing quality education for all young people.

It is worthy to note that about 69 million school-aged children are not in school and 31 million of them are in sub-saharan Africa. [Source: UN Fact Sheet].

Photo of school bell. Source: CATTU.

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