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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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Indian School in Dubai Provides Students Free Access to CBSE Learning Resources

Indian school in Dubai gives free access to CBSE textbooks

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CBSE textbooks
An Indian High School in Dubai has given its students free access to Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) textbooks and learning resources online. (Representational Image). Pixabay

An Indian High School in Dubai has given its students free access to Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) textbooks and learning resources online for the entire duration of this term amid the coronavirus pandemic,it was reported.

The school has offered to provide 100 per cent free access to CBSE textbooks and learning resources in digital form at no additional cost to all our students for the entire duration of this term, the Khaleej Times quoted the Indian High School group of schools’ CEO, Punit MK Vasu as saying on Thursday.

The term for Indian curriculum schools begins from end of March to June.

CBSE textbooks
The school has offered to provide 100 per cent free access to CBSE textbooks and learning resources in digital form at no additional cost. Flickr

In a letter to parents, Vasu said: “This will provide significant financial relief as no costs will need to be incurred on the physical purchase of any CBSE textbooks for this entire term.

“Our students will also benefit from a digital learning app developed by an international publisher and students will have complete free access to exciting digital content including activities, assessments, videos and so much more.”

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The school will take a decision on the physical purchase of text books and the continuation of digital text books in September, depending on the prevailing health situation, explained Vasu.

He urged parents not to purchase any physical text books from third-party vendors until further notice.

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“We are yet to confirm minor costs, if any, on e-text books for MoE related subjects such as Moral Education, Islamic Studies and Social Studies,” he was quoted as saying in the Khaleej Times report, reiterating that the Indian High School is a not-for-profit school.

The school has also aided families directly hit by the crisis by providing “need-based admissions” to those in need. (IANS)

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Talkative Children Perform Better at School: Study

Chatty kids do get good marks at school

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Children
Researchers have found that young children go on to achieve more academic success when their verbal skills are enhanced. Pixabay

Dear parents, if you want to boost your childs academic performance, let them chat more. Researchers have found that young children go on to achieve more academic success when their verbal skills are enhanced.

The study, by researchers at the University of York in the UK, looked at why children from wealthier and well-educated family backgrounds tend to do better at school.

The researchers found that children from families of higher socioeconomic status had better language abilities at nursery school age and that these verbal skills boosted their later academic performance throughout the school.

“Our findings show that a child’s learning at home, when they are under five, is really important to their chances of later academic success,” said study lead author Sophie von Stumm, Professor at the University of York.

Children
Children from high socioeconomic backgrounds were at an advantage when it came to their non-verbal skills – such as solving puzzles, drawing shapes and copying actions – before they started school, the researchers said. Pixabay

For the findings, published in the journal Child Development, the researchers looked at data from nearly 700 British children.

The children’s pre-school ability was tested at four-years-old and their educational outcomes were tracked throughout school up until the age of 16.

According to the researchers, differences in language skills between children explained around 50 per cent of the effect of family background on children’s achievement in the first year of school.

This achievement gap widened over the course of their education, the study suggests.

“Kids from more advantaged backgrounds are more familiar before starting school with the language patterns and linguistic codes that are used in formal educational settings and are expected by teachers,” Stumm said.

“Not all kids get the same start in life, but this study highlights the importance of helping parents of all backgrounds to engage with their children in activities which enhance verbal skills – such as reading bedtime stories and engaging the child in conversations,” Stumm added.

According to the researchers, activities designed to improve verbal skills boost cognitive, social and emotional development, in addition to benefitting parent-child bonding.

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The researchers also looked at non-verbal ability at nursery school age and found that it had a smaller, but never-the-less significant role in explaining the link between background inequalities and academic success.

Kids from high socioeconomic backgrounds were at an advantage when it came to their non-verbal skills – such as solving puzzles, drawing shapes and copying actions – before they started school, the researchers said. (IANS)

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Cameroon Starts a Program to Save Its Native Languages

Here's How Cameroon Plans to Save Disappearing Languages

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Native languages
A teacher writes in Ewondo, one of Cameroon's native languages, at a school in Yaounde. VOA

Cameroon is commemorating International Mother Language Day, February 21, by launching what it calls an ambitious program to save its endangered national languages.

The central African state has over 260 national languages, but only 40 are taught in schools.  Cameroonians speak mostly French and English, which are foreign but official languages and part of an entrenched separatist conflict that has cost about 3,000 lives since 2017.

At the multilingual and inclusive government primary school Yaounde, 150 children between the ages of five and 11 years old learn how to count in Ewondo, a Cameroon national language spoken in the country’s central and southern regions. The students are also taught the national anthem and patriotic songs in Cameroon national languages.

Businessman Emmanuel Mbom, 31 years old, says he is satisfied at the progress made by his six-year old son at the school.

Native languages
Fabienne Freeland, director general of the nongovernmental organization Summer Institute of Linguistics, helps Cameroon in promoting the teaching of its native languages. VOA

“In my situation, my wife and I speak two different languages, native languages so my children try to pick what they can pick,” Mbom said.

Mbom says he is confused about which language to teach his children because his language is Sawa, spoken in the Littoral and Southwest regions of Cameroon, and his wife is from the Northwestern town of Nkambe, where the Limbum language is spoken.

Cameroon’s secretary of state in the ministry of basic education, Asheri Kilo, says she is satisfied with the level of interest the children display at speaking their national language.

“It is very impressive the way the children are taken into learning their languages, and I decided to check how many children are from other regions rather than Yaounde and I figured that there were children from all the 10 regions in Cameroon,” she said.

Cameroon has 260 national languages spoken by an estimated 25 million people in the 10 regions of the country. It is one of the countries the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) classifies as a distinctive cultural density on the linguistic map of the world.

However, the central African state inherited two foreign languages from its French and English colonial masters as official languages, with 80 percent of the population speaking French and 20 percent English.

Fabienne Freeland, director general of the nongovernmental organization Summer Institute of Linguistics that helps Cameroon in promoting the teaching and learning of its national languages, says the official languages have not been effective tools of communication.

“French and English has its limits on development in this country,” Freeland said. “When there was a cholera outbreak in the far north, it is only when the information started coming in Fufulde that people started changing behavior and the cholera was stopped.”

Native languages
Asheri Kilo, secretary of state in Cameroon’s ministry of basic education, is encouraged by students’ interests in learning their native languages. VOA

Cameroon’s national institute of statistics reports that four percent of the central African states’ local languages — including the Mbiame language spoken in the country’s English-speaking Northwest Region and the Ekung language in the South — have disappeared since 1950. Ten percent of the 260 languages are neglected and seven percent are threatened.

Seraphine Ben Boli, who heads the program to promote the use of Cameroon national languages, says a pilot program that is being implemented in the 10 regions of the country to save the remaining mother tongues from disappearing.

She says the ministry of basic or elementary education is experimenting with the teaching of five national languages in 43 schools throughout Cameroon. The languages chosen, for now, are Ewondo, Bassa, Douala, Womala and Fufulde, because of their national popularity. She says apart from the experimental schools, teachers in all educational establishments have received instructions and training to teach Cameroon national languages spoken in the areas where their schools are found.

Boli said Cameroon will decide by 2030 on which of the languages can be used as an official language, added to English and French. She said by so doing, they intend to solve the separatist crisis that has within the past four years claimed at least 3,000 lives just because people are divided as a result of two inherited colonial languages.

Separatists have been fighting to create an English-speaking state out of the French-speaking majority. The separatists say the education, legal system and cultural practices they inherited from their British colonial masters are different from those left by the French, who colonized the French-speaking regions of the country. Cameroon believes by having its own national language as an official language, many of its citizens will feel like Cameroonians, unlike in the past when they considered themselves either French or English.

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UNESCO says it celebrates mother tongue day because it believes in the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity for sustainable societies and it is within its mandate for peace that it works to preserve the differences in cultures and languages that foster tolerance and respect for others. (VOA)