Education in Cameroon

Cameroon is a Central African nation on the Gulf of Guinea. Bantu speakers were among the first groups to settle Cameroon, followed by the Muslim Fulani until German domination in 1884. After World War I, the French took over 80% of the area, and the British 20%. After World War II, self-government was granted, and in 1972, a unitary republic was formed out of East and West Cameroon. Until 1976 there were two separate education systems, French and English, which did not merge seamlessly. English is now considered the primary language of instruction. Local languages are generally not taught, there are too many, and choosing between them would raise further issues.

Christian mission schools have played a significant role in educating children whose parents can afford them. But most cannot. Primary schooling has been free since 2000, but these are very basic, overcrowded, and parents must pay for all sundries. A 2004 government study found that elementary schools only had enough seats for 1.8 million students, with an attendance of 2.9 million. There are fewer girls than boys, mainly due to such things as early marriage, pregnancy, domestic chores, and traditional biases. On the back of this, the Cameroonian government launched a programme of construction and renewal, but with limited success. Corruption is still a problem and facilities remain basic. Most schools do not have working toilets, access to a water tap, or enough tables and benches for students. Teachers are poorly trained and poorly motivated. Secondary schools are expensive and there are both state-run and private universities.

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