Access to education in some regions of Cameroon has deteriorated in recent months: the far north has suffered repeated attacks by Boko Haram; refugees from the Central African Republic have flooded into the east; and the English-language regions of the southwest and northwest are mired in a political crisis.
Since 2007, the Global Partnership for Education has been providing support to the education sector in Cameroon, with financing totaling US$100.7 million. The current program, PAEQUE (Equity and Quality for Improved Learning), focuses primarily on improving the quality of education and promoting equity through specific actions such as:
- Improving literacy and numeracy levels. To enable students to acquire a sound basis in reading and mathematics, GPE contributes to the distribution of reading and mathematics textbooks in public schools. More than one million textbooks and teaching guides have been distributed, helping to improve the student/textbook ratio from 12/1 in 2012 to 6/1 in 2017.
- Improving teachers’ skills and working conditions. The suspension of the recruitment of primary school teachers in the civil service and the lack of financial resources for education have had a severe impact on the quality of education. Poorly paid or unpaid teachers have deserted the classrooms, forcing some communities to seek out other alternatives, such as the recruitment of community teachers (“maîtres parents”). This practice is very common, particularly in rural areas. However, most of these community teachers have received no pre-service teacher training. To deal with this issue, the government has established a mechanism to facilitate the placement of community teachers under contracts.
- Improving the education monitoring and supervision systems
- Promoting access to education for girls
The financial support provided by GPE has made it possible to transition 6,000 community teachers into contracts since 2015. The most recent progress report for the program showed that 85% of community teachers in disadvantaged regions have been converted to contractuals. The conversion of another wave of 3,000 teachers is planned for the 2017/18 school year.
This initiative is combined with training. For example, more than 60,000 teachers have received training in the use of textbooks and teaching guides.
The entire process of supervision has been reviewed and strengthened to ensure better monitoring of the provision of services in the education sector and to ensure that qualified, trained teachers paid by the government are available in all regions. To this end, training has been organized for the managers of general inspection offices, inspector/coordinators, and the individuals responsible for training community intermediaries such as regional, departmental and arrondissement inspectors, school principals and teachers.
In some areas, dominant cultural practices are not very favorable to the education of girls. To increase girls’ enrollment in the various regions of the country, GPE is supporting awareness campaigns that are broadcast on community radio stations in French, English and local languages (Fufulde, Baya, Bamoun and Pidgin). This effort is reinforced by the distribution of school kits for girls containing textbooks and other supplies.
Owing to the PAEQUE advocacy efforts, the Cameroonian government has recently adopted a new textbook reform.
In addition to the results of the PAEQUE program, the support provided by GPE is also promoting a political dialogue on key issues in the education sector, in collaboration with other partners. This is one of the most important contributions that GPE can make: the establishment of a platform for coordination and dialogue between the partners in support of the government’s priorities.