Deserted schools across parts of the English speaking region of Cameroon marked the opening of the academic year due to tensions in the region.
Residents have either fled or are hiding in their homes as the Anglophone separatists battle with government forces. Streets of the northwest capital of Bamenda was largely deserted according to reports.
The rattle of gunshots in the north and southwest regions meant that whiles students in other parts of the country went to school unhindered, the situation was different in parts of the two regions.
The state-owned CRTV on the first day of reopening (September 2) admitted that classes had begun in areas of the northwest but amid tight security. Separatists had warned they will disrupt any attempts to reopen schools.
As at today (September 3), CRTV reported that reopening of schools in the northwest had been timid but encouraging. Local newspapers are reporting a mixed reopening day.
Whiles one led with “Top départ” referring to the reopening day boom, another led with “Black to school” instead of “Back to school.”
Gustav Okuyu, resident of Bamenda told reporters why his kids had not gone to school: “My children have not gone to school, because… Look, one: my house has been burnt. Some of them are in the bush. Where will I take the other ones?
“I don’t even have money to send them to school. That’s why my children have not gone to school… I don’t even have a house and the others have run. I am an IDP(internally displaced person).”
After two years of conflict, a solution to the war between those calling for the independence of the region and the government seems far from being found.
“The government has to bring everybody to the table so that everything can be OK. Many people have said it, France has said it, America has said it: to the dialogue table. What is the problem with dialogue? Everybody wants dialogue, who doesn’t want peace in his house?” Gustav quizzed.
Tensions have risen following the sentencing of the separatist leader Julius Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and others to life in prison by a military court sitting in Yaounde.
Naseri Paul Bea, a governor of the central region in an interview with CRTV said schools in his region were a little overwhelmed especially because of IDP students.
He added that upgrades on facilities and other plans by the government will help ease the burden. He also said his outfit was yet to ascertain exactly how many IDPs had enrolled.