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Vigorous Control of Schools

Schools in Cameroon entered the second week for the 2015/2016 academic year on Monday September 14, 2015.

As the euphoria that usually characterizes the schools reopening dies down, hopefully with effective teaching and learning, parents who rushed to enroll their children in one school or the other will now certainly start crossing their fingers to wait for results.

But the expectant mood will be far from being lived by all and sundry.  This is owing to the troubling announcement made last week by the Ministry of Basic Education. In effect, government ordered the banning of hundreds of schools across the country for falling below the administrative procedure for their creation and functioning. Going by the communiqué, while some of the concerned schools are faulted for not possessing declaration orders for their creation and opening, others are booked for operating on unauthorised sites.

While devolved services of the Ministry of Basic Education, local administrative authorities and officials of private education brave the odds to ensure an effective implementation of the banning order, so many questions beg for answers here. Where would the kids that have been admitted there go to should the schools not regularize their situations? With the number of school goers growing by the day, would there be space in schools that conform to lodge those from the clandestine schools? Even if there is space, who will reimburse the first installments that had been paid in these schools especially as proprietors claim much, if not all, of the money had been used for repair works or to acquire didactic equipment? The questions could go on till the cows come home.

It is no secret that the creation of schools is fast becoming a juicy business in the country, especially in major towns. Push factors comprise the growing number of the population as a result of increasing rural exodus and newfound desire by parents to bequeath the best of education to their children. In the midst of this, some unscrupulous business people defy the laws of the land to set up anything in the name of a school. After all, once a building or two are erected and an attractive sign board put up, the proprietor is sure to have pupils the next academic year. Most often, desperate parents may not even have the time and know-how to verify the authenticity of some of the schools before registering their kids therein. Results are usually enrolling into clandestine schools most of which have everything but convenient infrastructure for effective learning.

The announcement of the Ministry of Basic Education, to say the least, surprised so many parents even though sources say the schools were suspended some months ago. It is true the officials might have been notified, but with the unquenchable quest for money by most of the proprietors, one would not imagine that they would have posted the decision for public notice.

It goes without saying here that the powers that be would have employed all communication means and early too to get parents abreast with the illegality in which some of the schools are operating. Cameroon Tribune published the list of the set schools only last week.

But beyond the early publication and wider publicity of the clandestine schools, stakeholders could limit the damage on poor parents and innocent pupils and students through vigorous control of schools. It is blameworthy to brandish as motive for banning a school the fact that some of them got authorization to open schools and have been functioning without a corresponding authorization. The ministries of basic and secondary education have devolved services right down to the level of Sub Divisions.

A stitch in time, they say, saves nine. There is an urgent need to reinforce indiscriminate control in the creation and functioning of schools at all levels. The authenticity of a hotel and its strength is measured by its star number pasted obligatorily at its entrance. Without necessarily advocating that schools be identified as such, which is not bad anyway, those involved in controlling their creation and functioning should, as a matter of priority, check and ascertain that existing schools live up to laid down administrative and pedagogic rules.           

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