The issue of school resumption in the English-Speaking parts of Cameroon has been a very contentious one. Over the last week, the debate has been intense with some advocating out-rightly that schools should resume, some out-rightly rejecting the notion and some arguing that for schools to resume, there has to be some promise of security.
In what has been a signficant U-turn, the Interim Government of the self-proclaimed Federal Republic of Ambazonia, through its Communication Secretary Chris Anu, in a broadcast, announced that they were not against school resumption.
In a message that was 1 hour and 16 minutes long, the representative of the Interim government of Ambazonia dealt with a large number of issues. Amidst exhalations to those still fighting for the restoration of their statehood, he used historical references to indicate why there was no need to give up.
At the 43rd minute and 27th second however, he turned his attention to the issue of school resumption. He made it clear that the Interim Government and front-line movements, having held in the past that schools should not resume, are taking a different approach to the issue. Announcing that schools were free to resume and that educational institutions were free to open their doors, the Ambazonia leaders have shown without doubt that they are more concerned about the future of Cameroonians than the current Biya regime.
In my message to the leaders before their Washington DC conference, I had raised the issue of school resumption and argued that it will cast the leaders in a more favourable light as education remains one of the key ways of ensuring a better future for children and for continuity of the quest for freedom.
Justice Ayah Paul Abine also raised the issue, while highlighting the importance of making sure that school resumption was closely linked to the halting of hostilities. It therefore came as no surprise that while making the announcement that schools can resume, the Ambazonian Interim Government, raised the issue of security as a concern. Pointing out to the many instances where the Cameroonian security apparatus has failed to provide safety for citizens, it was made clear that as people resume schooling, they should be aware that the levels of insecurity are still high.
This announcement has effectively increased the pressure on the Biya Regime to ensure that hostilities are halted ahead of the school resumption. In the last two years, the regime in Yaounde has been able to hide under the banner of school boycott policies, to blame all activists fighting for a better Cameroon for anything that went wrong with the educational system. The regime on occasion, blamed activists and Ambazonian fighters for burning schools and attacking pupils and students as way of enforcing school boycott. All of that changes with this announcement.
It is therefore hoped that with this announcement, schools can resume and parents can make the decision to send their kids to school without the fear of disobeying orders from the Ambazonian leadership. It is a tiny step forward, but certainly one in the right direction, especially given the challenges that the school boycott was already presenting to the economy of the Anglophone Regions and to the general health of the struggle for freedom.