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Teachers in English-speaking Areas of Cameroon Remain on Strike

2017-10-08

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[00:00.00]
  • Thousands of teachers celebrated World Teacher's Day in Yaounde, Cameroon's capital on October 5.
  • [00:10.28]
  • Ernestine Tabe, a teacher, came to the capital in September to look for a job.
  • [00:18.08]
  • She used to live in Kumba, an English-speaking town.
  • [00:23.29]
  • Tabe had not been paid for five months because of an ongoing strike in Cameroon's English speaking areas.
  • [00:33.12]
  • "I decided to come here in order to get myself involved in teaching, so that the zeal in me would not die down because, as a teacher, you are always eager to teach others to know."
  • [00:44.28]
  • Last November, most of the schools in Cameroon's two English-speaking regions closed when lawyers and teachers went on strike.
  • [00:55.69]
  • The strikers demanded that the government reform how it uses the French language in the country.
  • [01:03.58]
  • Gideon Tanda is a leader of one of the teacher's trade unions that called the strike.
  • [01:12.34]
  • Tanda spoke about some of the issues the teachers' union is concerned about.
  • [01:18.22]
  • He said English-speaking teachers are often sent to French-speaking regions and French-speaking teachers are sent to English-speaking areas.
  • [01:30.97]
  • He added that the teachers often have to teach in areas outside of their training.
  • [01:38.51]
  • "What do you think? That person [teacher] cannot perform. There is bad faith," he said.
  • [01:46.36]
  • Tanda also said that he is concerned that teachers will miss more school.
  • [01:52.13]
  • “[The] Government is not listening, and it is so deplorable now that we have had a lot of killing. People are on the run, others are nowhere to be found, just missing. I feel terribly bad as a teacher that at this point in time people have to miss classes for a whole year and they are about to miss another year."
  • [02:10.46]
  • English-speaking separatist groups have joined the strike.
  • [02:15.10]
  • They are demanding that English-speaking regions form a new state called “Ambazonia.”
  • [02:22.16]
  • Thousands of people demonstrated in the streets in support of calls for independence earlier this month.
  • [02:31.10]
  • However, the rights group Amnesty International said security forces reacted violently, killing at least 17 people.
  • [02:42.54]
  • In response to the strike, the government says it has given jobs to 1,000 English-speaking teachers and paid subsidies to private schools.
  • [02:55.31]
  • Officials also say they have released some of the leader of teachers' unions from jail.
  • [03:03.16]
  • The governor of the Southwest Region, Bernard Okalia Bilai, is urging teachers to return to their classrooms.
  • [03:12.81]
  • He says the state is here to guarantee their security.
  • [03:17.29]
  • He says officials will continue to talk with teachers to deal with their concerns throughout the year.
  • [03:26.42]
  • But other violence also has been reported.
  • [03:29.94]
  • Unknown arsonists, possibly from militant groups, have targeted schools that have ignored the call to take part in the strike.
  • [03:41.28]
  • Some parents say it is not safe to send their children back to school.
  • [03:47.19]
  • The government estimates that only 20 percent of expected students in the English-speaking regions have shown up for class since the school year began in September.
  • [04:01.63]
  • I'm John Russell.
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