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G. Akom
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"Ngundu Francis said it is quite a problem to the Delegation to which they are seeking a solution that will affect secondary schools" Wao! What is system? Do you look ahead and plan before taking decisions or take decisions before thinking of possible solutions? Why are we always leaping into the dark in Cameroon? Seven years may be too much for primary school but I do not think one of the reasons for the change should be that of the fear of being cheated by Francophones. By the way we have always been cheated. We are still having the assimilation mentality. Must the Anglophone system be like the Francophone one? For how long is the Anglophone system going to suffer from this assimilation? Can't we have a unique Anglophone system? For how long are we going to deceive ourselves that we are a unitary state?
Science educators worldwide agree that practical work is an important component of the teaching and learning process. However, they have also raised questions as to how practical work is carried out in schools. Many questions remain to be answered. Do pupils and students actually learn through practical work? Is what they learn commensurate to the amount of resources employed? Are they able to transfer this learning to other situations in life? Coming to the introduction of the so-called practicals at the FSLC exams I think some of the above questions need to be answered and many others. What do we mean by water purification and electrical wiring? Were any pilot studies done before the introduction of these exams? Are the teachers trained for that? Let us not forget that a good number of primary school teachers are high school dropouts with inadequate trining in many areas. How then are they to train and test pupils on areas they do not know themselves. Some of us who did and taught high school practicals understand the difficulties and time wasted in the laboratory. We need to re-examine our school syllabus, teach, and test more relevant stuff. Some of the stuff we teach our students are developmentally inappropriate and are never used. The world is moving away from rigid summative assessments to flexible formative assessments. We should not move in the opposite direction. It is time for us to sit down and work out what is good for us and implement it in the right way. In doing so the teachers should form a strong stakeholder group. We have abondoned them a lot when it comes to decison making.
Rexon, Maybe you are not a Cameroonian. If so, then it would be nice if you stop contributing on issues concerning Cameroonian politics. By contributing, you are indirectly taking part in the politics. You are expressing yourself and thereby taking part in the political debate. This makes you a stakeholder in the whole issue just like any other Cameroonian. Making your life materially or otherwise is not all about life. Life in Cameroon is not what it should be and you cannot afford to say you are comfortable when others are not. That is being self-centred. I guess you live out of Cameroon. Would you feel comfortable going back to live in Cameroon? When we say things are bad in Cameroon it does not mean some people are not living well. What percentage of Cameroonians does this amount to? Prices of household items in the Cameroonian market are soaring on a daily basis. Children cannot get good education and health care. And some of us say we are comfortable? Is this the meaning of a just society? This leaves me wondering what your ideas are. I find it difficult understanding your viewpoints. Are you for SCNC, against particular political parties, or against La Republique? Where do you stand vis-a-vis the political situation in Cameroon? Let us define what we have to offer to save our 'beloved' country. That is the only way to achieve change. We should are all accountable.
One afternoon, seven years ago, as I sat watching TV, there was a knock on the door. As I went to the door there stood a little boy (I could guess he was about 8 years old). He said, "Uncle good afternoon". I asked him what I could do for him. He asked if he could get some of the fruits from the tree behind the house. I wondered why this boy would come to ask when all the other children in the neigbourhood would just go for the fruits without asking. What struck me most was the English this child spoke: impeccable. I became curious and asked his name. He said, "Mandela". My next thought was to question who had given such a name to a child. Then I asked who his father was and behold he said Dr. Bate Besong. I was not surprised. The puzzle had came together. This reminded me of the old saying, "Pussy no di born dog". The next day I talked to BB, at Gaston, about Mandela and he said, "you can't deceive him. He knows what he does." The children knew their father and their father knew them. This is just what they are telling us here.
It is sickening to get such news. I am dreaming. I hope to get up from this dream soon. So I will never sit with BB at Sandpit junction anymore. My heart goes to his wise and 'smart'son - Mandela.
The GCE Board needs reforms indeed. However the types of reforms to be made is totally another issue. Our examining system was modelled after the UK system but if one were to find out how much the UK system has evolved ours would look astonishingly archaic. The exams seem to test more of what students do not know than what they do know. Most of what is studied for the exams is either obsolete or not reflective of our national or local needs. As a one-time chemistry examiner I would like to see an overhaul of the syllabus to reflect the realities of our society as well as being able to take into account local or indigenous experiences. Examining or not examining computer science is not the issue of importance. The important thing in my opinion is whether the students can use the computer science to improve their lives and that of the community. If our students properly learn what they are supposed to know, then exams will never be a problem to them. The idea of a research unit is highly welcome. I cannot imagine that students were being forced to take multiple choice exams without any sensitisation or initial studies on its relevance or success. The result was that it was rejected by a cross-section of the educational community. I feel one of the first tasks of the research unit should be to find out why there is the tendency to cheat in exams and how it can be curbed. I am looking forward to the reforms! Goodluck to the GCE Board. G. Akom Mallinson Institute for Science Education
I happen to have been among the first four teachers to be trained in this program. The goals of this program are without doubt excellent. Many changes have taken place in the PCC and CBC schools as a result of the project. However, it is worth saying that the two churches failed to get properly involved in the running of this program during its early stages especially with the death of Chris Tunyi (then PCC ES) and the resignation of Samuel Welang (then CBC ES) who were instrumental in the program’s initiation. There are many questions the church authorities need to answer. How much money did they spend in training the teachers? How will they sustain the program? How will they stop teachers from ‘escaping’? Are teachers really preachers of the word? These are all points which they raised and which I think they should carefully think about. The German team (Helge and co.) which started the program is really disappointed with the way things turned out. The so-called trainers, counterparts, or multipliers are being trained and not be used. Are they to blame when they leave due to frustration? It is true about 10 trained teachers left and are somewhere in the USA and Europe. I think the two churches should be mapping out a strategy of keeping those they are training else the same thing will continue to happen. During my time as a teacher in the CBC earned 65.000frs with a BSc. When I went into the program I was paid an untaxed amount about double that. At the end of the program I was sent back to my school and placed again on 58.000frs. Does that make any sense? How can someone keep a family with 58.000frs? This program is a good one and it would be good to keep it going. Time and again those of us who left the program have explained that we are studying to better ourselves and to be more useful to Cameroon. Looking only at the PCC and CBC is being shortsighted and narrow-minded. Al these teachers come to the mission with degrees. How many of these teachers did they train to the degree level? I had an assistantship and left and now I teach science method courses in an American university presently. If I were to go back to Cameroon and teach these same courses in Cameroon, would it be a blessing or a curse? Most of us who left are involved with science education and are willing to advise them if they are willing to listen. I would be happy to contribute in whatever way I can. Let us stop being ‘too’ selfish by thinking only about ourselves.
Thanks Prof. Asonganyi for making some of us know there was ever a document like this. I do not know how I can lay hands on this document. The fifth paragraph of Prof. Asonganyi's writeup (according to the report) summarizes what a university should be: "[T]he University is a common human value…a promethean place…for creative ideas and for the appropriation of knowledge, a place where the adaptation of knowledge to new circumstances is carried out, a place where great debates and serious reflection on issues of our times…are planned and organised…. Is any of our universities having any of these qualities?
Teachers do not die but I think bad teachers do die. The likes of Femi and Dotun will live forever. In 1992, twelve years after I had used Femi's book I was back to it but his time as teacher of chemistry. I was overwhelmed not just by the amount of material in the book but also by the amount of dedication they must put into preparing these books. At that time I took if for granted but years later I could not any longer. Things might have changed about science and science education but these two brothers remain icons in science and science education. Four decades after their works, with the advent of more sophisticated technologies, it still difficult to find their rivals. Such people make me happy and proud to be practicing chemistry educator. Can such people serve as an inspiration to all teachers of science? Let us give science a human dimension and help make it more exciting and relevant. May Femi's soul rest in peace! Thanks Bro' Canute for drawing our attention to this event.
I agree with Tabi about the use of this buzz phrase of sustainable development and I also agree that we cannot talk about sustainable development when there is almost no development. Most African nations are almost back to where they were by independence. From colonization indigenous African peoples have been continuously exploited leading to various consequences. By 1987 there was the publication of the Brundtland Report on sustainable development and many thought the magic remedy had come. Close to two decades after this report, this concept has remained a myth to most of Africa as it seems to be moving backwards. A few years after Rio, there were talks of Agenda 21 all over Cameroon but I am suprised things just went silent. (Barbier, 1987) sees sustainable development as applied to the Third World... "as being directly concerned with increasing the material standard of living of the poor at the grassroots level, which can be quantitatively measured in terms of increased food, real income, educational services, health care, sanitation and water supply, emergency stocks of food and cash, etc., and only indirectly concerned with economic growth at the aggregate, commonly national, level". Let us take a step back and examine which of these aspects are experiencing an increase in Cameroon and ask ourselves if we have to talk about sustainable development. Education for sustainability (EfS) remains a viable concept but the question is are we ripe and ready for it? Cameroonian universities ought to rethink their strategies to reflect the realities of our society. Considering that EfS can be implemented in locally relevant and culturally appropriate manners, a restructuring of the educational system could be made to make education relevant and purposeful to people’s lives especially that of the youth. But then this remains a dream as these institutions are highly government-controlled, bureaucratized, tribalized, and politicized. I feel sorry for those at the head of these institutions for they say what they know is not correct but are obliged to say it. Sustainable development is like a hydra or octopus with many tentacles: political, economic, cultural , ... . Can we achieve it in Cameroon without all these tentacles? Tabi, you pricked me! Fon, you guessed right.
Sad situation indeed. Those who knew him will confirm he was a good person who was willing to help others. The name FAGO came into existence when this guy was still in primary school. I remember him as one of the few students who came to school back in the late seventies on a bicycle and he had FAGO written behind it. He made it clear secondary education was not really for him and that is why he went straight off to the garage after primary school and within a few years he was doing well. He has helped many people and they can testify. He was always willing to advice others. Whatever has happenned, I know a hard working man has gone to rest. I am still having it difficult accepting that I will not see him again. It is my hope that those responsible should be uncovered and dealt with. May his sole rest in peace. My heart goes to the family!