Over 80 per cent of anglophone schools in Cameroon shut down

Lesson in a primary school in Northwest region Lesson in a primary school in Northwest region Getty Images/BBC

21 June 2019

As the three-year conflict between the Government of Cameroon and armed groups worsens, schools in the Northwest and Southwest anglophone areas close.

Since the escalation of conflict between the government and armed groups in 2016, more than 80 per cent of schools in English-speaking Northwest and Southwest Cameroon have been closed. 

School closures are a result of the militia groups imposing a ban on education in these regions and have affected more than 600,000 children, leaving at least 74 schools destroyed. Thousands of students, teachers and school administrators have experienced violence, abduction and intimidation. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Spokesperson, Toby Fricker, has stated that closing the schools is “putting the future of an entire generation of children at risk, children who with the right support and opportunities can build a more stable and prosperous future.” 

The conflict between the Cameroonian government and armed groups began in 2016 when English-speaking Cameroonians carried out peaceful protests against the Francophone government in the northwest and southwest regions. The protests were triggered by the imposition of the French-dominated school curriculum and legislative system in anglophone areas. However, when President Paul Biya responded to nonviolent protests with brutal force in 2017, peaceful protests turned into violence between the military and non-state armed groups. As a result, the non-state groups symbolically declared independence from the government, calling themselves Ambazonia. 1.3 million civilians are now in need of humanitarian aid, 450,000 of whom have been displaced.

In its actions to reduce the effects of conflict between the government and armed groups, UNICEF has already helped about 15,000 displaced children to attend formal schools outside the affected region, and has trained teachers in these outside communities to give psychosocial support for children dealing with trauma from civilian conflict and displacement. UNICEF is also working with religious and community leaders to re-open schools in the affected regions.

Additionally, UNICEF has called on all of the parties involved in the conflict to “protect all children and their families; allow humanitarian access to all people in need, according to international humanitarian law (IHL); and to protect and re-open schools, and ensure safe learning spaces for children, without conditions.”


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Author: Giulia DeLuca, Editor: Aleksandra Krol


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