Teachers Talk Tough!


A primary school class room

A primary school class room

Eleven Teachers’ Trade Unions of the Basic and Secondary Education sectors, have announced a double nationwide strike action from February 17 – 22 and April 28 to May 2, 2014. The decision by the teachers to engage industrial action and down tools was announced by leaders of the Teachers’ Trade Unions at a press conference in Yaounde on February 5.

Speaking for the Trade Unions, the Secretary General of the National Autonomous Trade Union of Secondary and High School Teachers, SNAES, Roger Kaffo Fokou, told Journalists that “since February 6, 2012, the teachers’ trade unions have been negotiating with the Cameroon Government to reason so that concrete solutions can be arrived at, concerning the grievances of the members of the teaching corps.

“After two years of negotiation within the ad-hoc committee put in place by the Prime Minister, Head of Government, to assess and propose solutions to the numerous problems of the teaching corps, these negotiations led to the elaboration of several accords and texts. These were submitted to hierarchy since April 2012 for signature. The Prime Minister has signed the text regulating the awards of academic distinctions to teachers while the other texts are at the level of the Presidency of the Republic,” Kaffo stated.

He reiterated that the most important among those being awaited are: “the text to raise the index bar for the teaching corps, the integration of Sports and Physical Education teachers as well as Youth and Sports Animators into the Ministries of education, the integration of all contract teachers in Basic and Secondary Education and the text to raise the research and documentation allowances within the teaching corps.”

Kaffo remarked that since 2008, the budget allocated for Education has drastically dropped.
“No country can progress without quality education and there is no quality education without teachers,” he lamented. The Secretary General of SNAES said, to show how serious the strike actions would be, “all marks of the 4th, 5th and 6th sequential tests as well as other administrative documents shall be withheld.” To this effect, he noted, students would not be able to collect their report cards during the second and third terms.

According to a document calling on the teachers to faithfully observe the strike actions, the union leaders described the delay to resolve their problems as intentional. They observed, with dismay, “the laxity of the Presidency of the Republic towards teachers’ problems and education in Cameroon.”

Mooting that they are being discriminated against, the leaders said the laxity “is in sharp contrast to the Head of State’s habitual swiftness in solving the problems of other public service corps… Government is exploiting the fact that teachers may not be able to mobilise to solve their problems,” the leaders stated.

They dispelled doubts expressed by Reporters on the effectiveness of such strike actions and promised to stand by their call for the industrial action if nothing is urgently done. Visibly disgruntled, the National Executive Secretary of the Cameroon Teachers’ Trade Union, CATTU, Wilfred Tassang, said about 90 percent of teachers in Basic Education are contract workers.

“We cannot have a corps made up of only contract workers. If this country has to emerge it has to be through education,” he stated. Tassang added that teachers want to live honest lives. “If Journalists and other workers in Cameroon don’t want to strike, despite their low wages, it means they have other sources on which they rely for survival. We, the teachers, don’t want to extort money from our children,” he declared.

The teachers are also calling on members of the civil society such as NGOs, religious bodies, community-based associations, Parent-Teachers Associations, research networks and other sympathetic groups who want to see better education for Cameroonian children to support their actions. They believe that their support can cause the Government to react swiftly and save the schools from the looming catastrophe, that would bring untold pain to their children.

The decision to go on the nationwide strike actions was endorsed by leaders of the following Trade Unions: Wilfred Tassang of CATTU, Roger Kaffo Fokou of SNAES, Ateba Jean Pierre of SNUIPEN, Kouanang of SNIEB, Jean Kamdem of FESER, Bilogui Virginie of MONICAM, Maurice Foé of SNAEF, Michel Tamo of ONEEPS and Valentine Tameh of TAC. Other leaders also signed for FECASE and SYNTESPRIC.

By Nformi Sonde Kinsai & Elizabeth Enanga Mokake



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