Cameroon: Building the resilience of the education system to cope with crises

The Cameroonian Government has adopted several measures to ensure continuity of learning during the health crisis posed by COVID-19 for the most vulnerable children in the most at-risk regions. Learn what progress has been made and what results have been achieved to date.

February 22, 2022 by GPE Secretariat
4 minutes read
A primary school student in her classroom in Cameroun. Credit: GPE/Stephan Bachenheimer
A primary school student in her classroom in Cameroun.
Credit: GPE/Stephan Bachenheimer

The restrictive measures adopted by the Government of Cameroon on March 18, 2020 to address the health crisis have affected some 7.2 million students, including around 4.5 million primary school children, 47% of whom are girls.

The situation is even more critical for children living in the Far North, Northwest and Southwest regions of the country, whose schooling had already been disrupted when a number of nonformal education structures were forced to shut their doors as a result of conflicts that predated the COVID-19 pandemic.

GPE provided US$11 million in COVID-19 accelerated funding in 2020 to help the country address the impact of the health crisis on its already weakened education system. The objective of the grant is to support the implementation of the Projet de riposte d’urgence contre la Covid-19 dans l’enseignement de base au Cameroun which runs from July 2020 to June 2022.

Ensuring continuity of learning for all vulnerable children

The program focuses primarily on students at the pre-primary, primary and lower secondary levels of public education institutions affected by the double crisis (health and security) in the targeted regions.

The support provided by GPE is also designed to help the Ministry of Education prepare for the reopening of schools and organize classes in a safe and protective environment, while also building the resilience of the education system to cope with future crises.

With this in view, special emphasis is being placed on activities to ensure the continuity of basic education for students in public institutions, while prioritizing equitable access for all children, both boys and girls, as well as for refugees, internally displaced persons, and the most vulnerable communities in disadvantaged areas.

Screenshot of the bilingual online learning platform My Online School.
Screenshot of the bilingual online learning platform My Online School.

In pursuit of the foregoing, a number of activities have already been implemented, with the support of UNESCO, in its capacity as grant agent for this program. These include:

  • The creation of a bilingual online learning platform My Online School. It provides a variety of learning resources in English and French for students from kindergarten to secondary school, and allows teachers to create learning spaces;
  • The launch in April 2020 of a distance education program at the primary level (lessons imparted via national radio and television);
  • The provision of training to 1,071 public primary school principals, 55% of whom were women, in education management and leadership in crisis situations;
  • The ongoing preparation of 659 language and math courses, in different formats (digital, audio, video and print), for levels II and III of primary education;
  • The provision of training to a number of participants in the education chain in the production of pedagogical resources for distance education;
  • The delivery, now under way, of 730,000 activity booklets in priority education areas to vulnerable children in Grades CE1, CE2, CM1 and CM2 (Grades 3-6) of the francophone subsystem and Class 3, Class 4, Class 5 and Class 6 of the anglophone subsystem;
  • The provision of information to 3,477,368 students and 191,700 parents (including 45,762 women) to raise awareness about the transmission and spread of COVID-19 and the need to respect the preventive measures promoted by the Government and the WHO;
  • The provision of tablets to students preparing for exams to ensure learning continuity.

While all these activities were instrumental in ensuring that Cameroon’s education system continued to function even at the height of the health crisis, the country’s economic recovery also played a key role.

Laying the groundwork for life after COVID-19

Cameroon’s education system has been weakened by the health crisis. In response, a number of specific activities have been implemented to allow for the resumption of school and for learning processes in basic education institutions to be more effectively organized.

In accordance with government directives to address the COVID-19 pandemic in the Cameroonian education system and ensure that classes can resume in a safe and protective environment, GPE support has contributed to the following achievements:

  • 436,000 kindergarten to secondary school students now have access to temporary handwashing stations in their schools;
  • 19,170 public school entities have received COVID-19 prevention handbooks, which were developed with the support of UNICEF and validated by the Ministry of Basic Education;
  • 134 boreholes are currently being constructed in schools located in disadvantaged areas;
  • 1,800 kindergarten, primary and secondary school teachers from all 10 regions in the country have received training in teaching methods and COVID-19 prevention, and have benefited from psychosocial support;
  • A toll-free hotline in French, English and local languages (including Fulfulde and Pidgin) has been established in collaboration with U-Report (a UNICEF project, led by Cameroon’s Ministry of Youth and Civic Education).

The successful implementation of this program underlines the importance of strengthening leadership capacity at the national level and of promoting effective collaboration between local education groups and the relevant ministries.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Cameroon

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