Cameroon: Anglophone teachers fire missive to Biya over reorganisation of GCE Board

Anglophone teachers, through various teachers’ trade unions have fired a missive to the head of state, President Paul Biya, in which they expose some of the shortcomings of the recent reorganisation of the Cameroon GCE Board.

In the letter signed by Semma Valentine, president of Cameroon Teachers Trade Union CATTU; Tameh Valentine, national president of Teachers Association of Cameroon, TAC; Afu Stephen Kwah, president of Presbyterian Education Authority Teachers Trade Union, PEAT-TU; Gilbert Lakinyu, president of the Catholic Education Workers Teachers Union, CEWOTU; Ayeah Emmanuel, president of Baptist Teachers Trade Union of Cameroon, BATTUC, the teachers decried what they termed incongruities of the text reorganising the GCE Board. Their missive to the head of state comes following a recent text reorganising the GCE Board, transforming it into a parapublic institution.
The teachers recalled law No. 98/004 of 14 April 1998 which states that the educational system in Cameroon shall be organised into two sub-systems; the English-speaking and French-speaking sub-systems and that they shall co-exist “each preserving its specific method of evaluation and award of certificates ». “This law, to the best of our knowledge, Your Excellency, which took into consideration our historical reality, has not been abrogated, so we worry that individuals will take upon themselves to craft a text for your signature that violates this still existing law of the land.
We are shocked that the new GCE Board text does not even mention this Law of 1998. Such clear spite of the noble effort of the legislative arm of our
government is grossly abusive and punishable…,” they said.
On the issue of the name of the Board, the teachers noted that “the fact that the Board no longer organises only GCE examinations, that it now organises an Advanced Professional Certificate with the possibility that it might henceforth organise more, means that the name « GCE Board » no longer captures the essence of that body”. “We should make bold to point out, Your Excellency, that we see no reason why attempts are being made to obliterate the word « Anglophone » or the expression « Anglo-Saxon » from our context. These words do not appear even once in the new text, giving the impression that this text, presented as having been born of a well-meaning disposition, might after all have been driven by ulterior motives,” they noted.

‘Irrational exclusion’

The Anglophone teachers are also irked by the composition of the Board, disparaging what they referred to as irrational exclusion of some education stakeholders. They cited the case of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Buea or his/her representative, an institution that has always vetted and validated GCE certificates, and also education agencies –“worthy, dependable partners in education, some of who/which have been in the business longer than government and whose counsel and contributions can never be under-estimated”. “Equally, parents and teachers are also irrationally excluded. Parents, whose children are the consumers of Board products were thought to be vital links in the chain and so were represented in the old dispensation so they could monitor the nature and quality of education offered their children. Teachers, on their part, as direct actors initiating GCE Board products and validating the end results – the final, sellable product were also represented, because seen as an important part of the chain. These teachers and parents, like the agencies, played the role of veritable watchdogs in the old dispensation,” they recalled.
“And the reduction of the former Council, become Board of Directors, from 17 (seventeen) members to an easy to manipulate, easily bribable 7 (seven)
members is questionable. We consider the reduction and all the exclusions to be irrational and expressive of a hidden agenda,” the teachers argued.
They were also not pleased with the fact that most members of the Board of Directors are mostly representatives from/of the presidency and government ministries, seeing it as “strictly a political body”. “In an examination institution like the Board, we think, there should be more technicians than administrators in a Board of Directors that takes decisions with direct impact on the well-being of that institution,” they said.

‘Room for highhandedness’

The teachers said the new structure accumulates administrative, technical and financial duties in the hands of one or two individuals, “with room for high-handedness, complicity and abuse”. They also took note of the fact that on the contrary, with the case of the French-speaking equivalent of the GCE Board, Office du Bac du Cameroun, OBC, most or all persons on its Board of Directors are education experts.
“All these persons in the OBC Board are education experts. If the OBC text, that is from all indications modelled along the tradition of GCE Board traditions, sees the need for representation of technocrats from universities, national inspectorates of pedagogy and teachers, why should writers of the new GCE Board statutes dispense of dependable old traditions that are being seen as inspirational and copied?” the Anglophone teachers questioned.

Role of University of Buea

The exclusion of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Buea or his/her representative did not also go down well with the Anglophone teachers. “…the VC of the UB is a signatory of the certificates to guarantee the standards and quality of the certificates as university entry qualifications. Excluding the VC or her/his representative in the Board of Directors and EEC reduces her/him to signing certificates whose credibility and standards s/he has no control over,” they wrote. After cited several other issues which they think are loopholes of the text reorganising the GCE Board, the Anglophone teachers told the head of state that “something should he done to check rising indignation from the Anglophone masses who see this, justifiably, as a prelude to the dissolution of the English-speaking sub-system of education”.

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