The Minister of Basic Education (Minedub), Laurent Serge Etoundi Ngoa, recently raised the possibility of closing special schools for disabled children, advocating for a more inclusive approach to education.
During a recent hearing with the National Assembly's Finance and Budget Committee, Minister Etoundi Ngoa explained that keeping disabled children in segregated schools may hinder their development. "Medical experiments have shown that when we group them (the disabled) with normal children, they develop much better," he stated.
The Minedub proposes integrating disabled children into mainstream schools, believing that this will foster a more inclusive and stimulating environment for their learning and social development. "We now need to multiply the number of schools where we can put everyone; motor, hearing, and visually handicapped children, etc. They have to be in the same classrooms," he asserted.
However, concerns have been raised about the preparedness of mainstream schools to accommodate the diverse needs of disabled students. Eyi-Francine Angue, director of Hearing-impaired children's school ESEDA, expressed concerns about the lack of adequate training for teachers in inclusive education. "There are 68 public inclusive schools in Cameroon, that can accommodate children with disabilities, spread across the country's 10 regions. [...]In theory, [inclusive] schools are supposed to accommodate children with disabilities. However, teachers are not adequately trained. As a result, these children receive insufficient support. In a classroom of a public school with 40 students, if a child with a disability joins, how can the teacher be expected to address their specific needs without neglecting other students?” she said last January when interviewed on inclusive schooling by the French non-profit organization Solidarité Laïque
While acknowledging the legal protections afforded to disabled children, representatives of disability advocacy groups lament the persistent marginalization of these individuals.