Civil Society Challenges the Status quo, Urges 'Ringing-In' Inclusive Education in Restive Southern Cameroons

In Cameroon, efforts are being made to foster inclusion of children with disabilities in education. An awareness campaign dubbed 'We Ring The Bell', took place from April 19th through the 22nd, organized by the Cameroon Baptist Health Services alongside their partners, the Dutch-based humanitarian organization- Lilian Funds and Cameroon's Ministry of Social Affairs.

To attain the objective of changing wrong perceptions of educating children with disabilities and ensuring that no child with special needs is left behind in education, organizers carried out a media sensitization including a social media campaign that sought to get the community more engaged in inclusion. Weeklong activities culminated in a three-day webinar that brought in participants from around the world.

Children with disabilities face daunting challenges in their quest for education (C) CBC Health Services

Pauline Irène Ngene, Cameroon's Minister of Social Affairs spoke of the urgency of eliminating all forms of discrimination against children with disabilities and her government's resolve to attain this goal set by the United Nations.  The UN reports that around the world, more than 90 percent of children living with disabilities do not have access to education. A situation which, Cameroon's Minister of Social Affairs says, is predominant in the poorest countries of Africa, Asia, and South America.

The grim picture has been exacerbated in Cameroon by the global Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the ongoing genocidal war in the Once Independent State of Southern Cameroons. The armed conflict between pro-independence fighters of the Southern Cameroons and the army of Cameroon has been raging on for almost five years, leaving thousands of school-going children stranded.

The Coordinator of 'We Ring The Bell' campaign Mrs. Agho Glory highlighted the devastating impact of conflict on children's education, particularly children with disabilities and those in rural areas. The campaign aptly entitled 'Leave no child with disability behind in education' has had to overstep numerous hurdles to keep going, including having to move their offices away from the restive Southern Cameroons.