By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The 25th edition of the World Teachers Day has been commemorated in Buea despite the threats and dire situation in which the teachers are in. The celebration which took place at the esplanade of the Buea council was under the theme, “Young Teachers: The future of the profession.”
This day comes at a critical point in Cameroon history with the country facing upheavals in the Anglophone Regions. The over three-year crisis has seen teachers beaten, manned, kidnapped, and others killed simply for practicing their profession.
The Regional Delegate of Secondary Education Dr. Hannah Mbua Etonde speaking during the ceremony urged the teachers to shun fears and be courageous, considerate, and daring knowing that if they stay away from classes, they are killing generations. “Let us measures that will see teachers work in a calm atmosphere. At this point in time, teachers need to be credible and courageous while adapting to the changes to the profession taking into consideration technological advancement.”
For the past three years, teachers have been beaten, maimed, kidnapped, and some have been killed simply for practicing their profession. “There is a good number of challenges that the teachers are going through in the South West Region. No matter the challenges, let us remain teachers,” she said while calling on the teachers to shun fears and be courageous, considerate, and daring while knowing that they are killing a generation if they decided to stay away (from classrooms). “Teachers should shun the unwilling attitude to teach students.”
The upheavals have equally had a devastating effect on educational establishments in the Anglophone regions. Many schools have been destroyed as the teachers have been chased away by separatist fighters. Speaking on this issue, the Regional Delegate called on the teachers, and proprietors of such establishments or those that are not functional to apply for redeployment, so they could be posted to areas that are operational.
To Esunge Ndive, President of the Buea Area Teachers’ Association, BATA said, “The very unfriendly environment where we are working today, due to the sociopolitical upheavals plaguing the Anglophone regions where teachers are kidnapped or killed is evocative. It is an environment where teachers are afraid to go to work due to fear of the unknown.”
He went further to outline some issues that are plaguing the teaching profession such as the non-award of academic honors and medals to the teachers of the Basic Education sector, very low salaries, especially for teachers in the private sector which cannot even pay their house rents, non-registration of teachers of the private sector for pension schemes, and no signing of labor contracts for teachers in the private sector with their employees — this leaving them at the mercy of such employers, who demise them whenever they desire.
The SG appreciated the teachers for having turned out to celebrate the day despite various threats at their safety. The teachers are the main actors of development. He went on to call on teachers to be the ambassadors of their generation, to preach by example and to serve as a model for the youths. They should equally work according to the ethics of their profession.
Another issue that was greatly frowned upon was the slackness new teachers have about their profession. According to officials, many present day teachers are only in search of the matricule number and not having the teacher spirit. “To the young teacher, teaching is not seen as a vocation,” Njikang Gabriel noted.