Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Anglophone Teachers Unions Slam President Paul Biya’s Decree Re-Organising GCE Board

Five Anglophone Teachers’ Trade Unions, namely: the Cameroon Teachers Trade Union, (CATTU); the Presbyterian Education Trade Union, (PEATTU); the Catholic Workers Trade Union, 

(CEWOTU); the Baptist Teachers Trade Union of Cameroon, (BATTUC); the Teachers Association of Cameroon, (TAC), have addressed a memo to President Paul Biya, calling on him to revert the “provocative” decree he recently signed reorganising the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Board.

Dwelling on what they termed the incongruities of the decree, the trade unions state that most parts of the decree re-organising the GCE Board “cast ominous shadows” over the whole issue.

The memo cites Law No 98/004 of 14 April 1998, that lays down guidelines for Education in Cameroon, which states in its Section 15, sub1 and 2, that the education system shall be organised into two subsystems: the English-speaking subsystem and the French-speaking subsystems … and that these education subsystems shall 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 historic reality, has not been abrogated.”
Anglophone Teachers Unions Slam President Paul Biya’s Decree Re-Organising GCE Board
The trade unions’ worry is 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 the Government, is grossly abusive and punishable in our opinion, Your Excellency,” the Memo reads.’

Concerning the name of the Board, the trade unions said the fact that the Board no longer only organises only GCE Examinations, that it now holds an Advanced Professional Certificate, with the possibility that it might henceforth organise more, it means that the name “GCE Board no longer captures the essence of the body. A name like “the Cameroon Anglophone Examination Board,” or “the Cameroon Examination Board” will make more sense.

They argue that they see no reasons why attempts are being made to obliterate the word “Anglophone” or the express “Anglo-Saxon” from our context – these words do not appear even once in the new text, given the impression that this text, presented as having been born or a well-meaning disposition, might, after all, have been driven by ulterior motives.”

The five trade unions, in their four-page memo, describe the exclusion from the Board of Trustees, and the Vice-Chancellor, VC, of the University of Buea, UB, and or his representative, as irrational. That citadel of learning has always vetted and validated GCE Certificates, reason why the trade unions are worried.

There is also the exclusion of the education agencies, worthy dependable partners in education, some who have been in the business longer than Government and whose counsel and contributions can never be underestimated.

Equally, Biya’s decree, irrationally, excludes parents, whose children are the consumers of Board products… teachers and parents, like the agencies, played the role of veritable watchdogs in the old dispensation,” the memo reads in part.

The Trade unions pointed out that the reduction of the former Council, from 17 members to “easily bribable seven members, is questionable. We consider the reduction and all the exclusions to be irrational and expressive of a hidden agenda, Your Excellency.”

Justifying the fact that the new text makes the Board a political body, the union leaders point out that the Board constitutes as it is “only of representatives from the Presidency, the Prime Minister, the Ministries of Education, Higher Education and Finance, with the Board Chairperson Registrar and staff representatives, as strictly a political body. In an examination institution like the GCE Board, the teachers think there should be more technicians than administrators.

According to the trade unions, a nagging worry that lingers on is that initiating a change just for the sake of it is uncalled for.

“The GCE Board as a para-public institution, with the fabulous salaries entailed, means that those who foot the bills, the parents through registration fees and State subvention will be squeezed further … why should an institution, which depends solely or largely on parents and the State, suddenly is transformed into a parastatal only because such is the vogue and not necessarily because it is realistic?” the memo further states.
All of this, notwithstanding, the memo gives some credits to Biya for the merits of the decree, especially on the Technical Certificate Examinations that the GCE Board will henceforth be organising.

Also, the fact that the Board will be organising an Advanced Professional Certificate for at least three categories of aspirants is also commendable.

“Finally, upgrading the GCE Board to the level of a para-public institution with incalculable salary gains for GCE Board workers is surely very good news to these beneficiaries.”

The unionists have appealed to President Biya to re-touch the decree to give back to Anglophones what they are attempting to snatch away.

“We now turn to you, Your Excellency, even though the text has already been published. Something can still be done to this text that today exists in violation of extant Law No. 98/004 of 14 April 1998, which you signed to lay down “guidelines for Education in Cameroon” and so make education in our fatherland worthy, dependable and futuristic.

“Something should be done to check rising indignation from the Anglophone masses who see this, justifiably, as a prelude to the dissolution of English–speaking sub-system of education. This will go a long way to endear you to your citizens who look back in anger every other day, at many such hastily designed, ominous texts that high officials present before you for signature, giving a false impression that these spurious exist, have been worked out in collegial and consensual manner.”

“We look forward with a lot of hope and expectation, after your recent electoral victory and the promises you made during your swearing-in to address the problems rocking the Northwest and Southwest Regions. Thank you, Your Excellency, Father of the Nation and may God bless you and our nation Cameroon.”

The memo was signed by Valentine Semma of CATTU, Stephen AfuKwah of PEATTU, Gilbert Lakinyu of CEWOTU, Emmanuel Ngam of BATTUC and Valentine Tameh – TAC.

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