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After escaping Boko Haram terrorist group, Cameroon Students not accepted in schools in their Homeland

Since 2014, some government-funded teachers have refused transfers to schools in areas vulnerable to Boko Haram attacks, further straining those schools' resources

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Cameroon Students. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Lara Salamatou wants to resume her education, but as Cameroon schools reopened Monday, the 16-year-old could only get lessons in frustration.

She’d tried to enroll in the government high school in Maroua, the Far North provincial capital, after fleeing three months ago from extremist violence near her home in Kerawa on the border with Nigeria. She was turned away because of overcrowded classes and few teachers, she said.

Now, Salamatou is among at least 100,000 displaced youths whose education has been jeopardized this academic year, according to Cameroon’s government.

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Authorities recently shut her school in Kerawa, along with 160 others, because of cross-border raids by the Nigerian-based Boko Haram Islamic insurgents. Schools in host communities are overcrowded and insecurity has delayed construction of more classrooms.

Would-be students wait

At a French-speaking government elementary school here, roughly 500 prospective pupils still waited outside as classes began Monday.

Teacher Njah Clementine said the school wouldn’t admit youths whose parents had not paid the $10-per-student fee required by parent-teacher associations for expenses such as textbooks and exams. PTAs manage public schools in collaboration with the government,which provides otherwise free elementary education. It’s compulsory for youngsters ages 6 through 14.

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Though many of the deterred youngsters have been displaced from conflict zones, Clementine said, the government hasn’t provided instructions on whether to admit them.

“There are so many parents that rush at the last minute to come and pay. … Some are begging” that their children be allowed to come to class, Clementine said, insisting the school has “effective” teachers. “They prepared their lessons since last week.”

Since 2014, some government-funded teachers have refused transfers to schools in areas vulnerable to Boko Haram attacks, further straining those schools’ resources.

Battling Boko Haram

Across the border in northern Nigeria, Boko Haram attacks government schools and schoolchildren. The Islamist militants oppose education; the group’s name translates to “Western education is forbidden.”

Cameroon’s minister of basic education, Youssouf Hadidja Alim, said the government is striving to build more classrooms in safer locales. She said it has constructed more than 200 classrooms, noting that 87 buildings have toilets. The government also has installed 56 wells to serve the education sites. More facilities are planned, she said.

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The government also is providing special allowances for teachers to encourage them to teach in vulnerable areas and has implemented an emergency plan for border areas, Alim said.

But Boko Haram fighters target the companies building the schools, said the Far North region’s top-ranking basic education official, Aminou Sanda Zoua. He said that contractors have abandoned construction sites because of mounting insecurity. He added that all classrooms built by the military’s engineering corps are ready for use. (VOA)

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United States Plans to Stop Preferential Trade Status of Cameroon in 2020

The 2000 law aims to stimulate U.S. trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa and bolster economic growth in the region

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The 2000 law aims to stimulate United states trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa and bolster economic growth in the region, primarily by enabling participating countries to market goods to the United States duty-free. Pixabay

United States to end Cameroon’s preferential trade status in 2020 because of alleged human rights violations, a charge the West African nation’s government disputes.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced his decision in a written message to Congress on Thursday, saying Cameroon’s government “engages in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights … [including] extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and unlawful detention, and torture.”

As of Jan. 1, Cameroon would be removed from the list of countries benefiting from the African Growth and Opportunity Act.  The 2000 law aims to stimulate U.S. trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa and bolster economic growth in the region, primarily by enabling participating countries to market goods to the United States duty-free.

Participants’ responsibilities

Cameroon was among 39 countries participating as of last January. Participants must show evidence of working toward a market-based economy, upholding core labor standards, establishing the rule of law and respecting human rights.

Activist groups such as Human Rights Watch have reported “credible accounts of torture and abuse” in Cameroon, where a two-year crisis over Anglophone-speaking regions’ push for separation from the predominantly French-speaking country has left at least 2,000 people dead.

In August, for example, HRW said Cameroonian authorities had held more than 100 detainees for weeks in overcrowded conditions, subjected them to torture and delayed trials. Detainees complained of beatings “with wooden clubs and machetes.”

Trump blamed rights violations on the administration of Paul Biya, president since 1982.

Cameroon’s information minister, Rene Emmanuel, defended the government.

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President of United States- Donald Trump announced his decision in a written message to Congress on Thursday, saying Cameroon’s government “engages in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights … [including] extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and unlawful detention, and torture.” Pixabay

“We think Cameroon is certainly one of the countries in Africa [that] has done a lot in terms of democracy, in terms of promoting liberties,” he told VOA in a phone call Thursday from the capital, Yaounde.

But, he added, “Maybe there is a lot of injustice in our country where the respect of human rights is concerned. So I think we will have to look into this decision.”

Critical of treatment

Emmanuel said Cameroon’s government was being treated unfairly.

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Last year’s top United States exports to Cameroon included machinery, steel and iron products, and plastics. The top imports from Cameroon included mineral fuels, wood products and cocoa. Pixabay

“Bad things are committed by separatists and not widely condemned. The humanitarian organization … behaves as if they don’t see anything concerning all the atrocities or forces who are there to take our citizens,” he said, suggesting government security forces were “there to preserve the integrity of the country.”

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Cameroon is the United States’ 128th-largest trading partner, with $413 million worth of goods exchanged in 2018, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Last year’s top U.S. exports to Cameroon included machinery, steel and iron products, and plastics. The top imports from Cameroon included mineral fuels, wood products and cocoa. (VOA)