Conflict plagues the lives of school-aged children in Cameroon. In conflict-free-zones going to school everyday is a regular, mundane activity. However, for school aged child living in Cameroon attending school is anything but a routine part of the day.
Cameroon conflict erupted in reaction to the imposition of French on Anglophone region in 2016, continues to prevent children from attending schools. With over 600,000 children out of school, and authorities unable to curb the ever growing chaos, students remain deprived of learning opportunities.
The conflict is in its fourth year and there seems to be no end in sight for the separatist rebellion. In over three years, school in cities of significant Anglophone regions including Bamenda, have experienced forced school-shutdowns. Schools that do remain open are constantly faced with possibility of an attack from the separatist rebels.
Cameroon, like the subcontinent was once a colonized. The country was divided between the French and the British, with the French controlling almost 80% of it. The French controlled area gained its much awaited independence in 1960. After a referendum the British held Cameroon was divided once again into two halves; Southern – French speaking half joined Cameroon and the Northern territory was integrated into the English Speaking Nigeria.
Countries, once decolonized, have been known to suffer some form of a crisis related to their linguistic identities but in Cameroon’s case the conflict has become a colossal, life affecting dilemma. Since 2016, violent protests and rebellious outbursts have erupted in the Anglophone region due to the forced imposition of French under Paul Biya’s reign.
The conflict is escalating with every passing day. The extent of the damage to the children’s wellbeing is evident from the fact, that many instead of attending schools are getting recruited by the rebels. Child-soldiers are daily joining hands with the fighters, to avenge deaths of loved ones for which they hold government troops responsible.
There have been incidents of kidnappings, hostile attacks on infrastructure and school lockdowns in the region. The government claims that the rebels are behind the shutdowns whereas, the rebels pin the acts of horror on those in power. As the violence continues, it seems Cameroon’s children will not be getting enrolled in safe schools anytime soon.