In Cameroon, 9 out of 10 children with disabilities have difficulties accessing education, according to official data. This situation has long been a headache for the government, which now came up with a set of measures aiming at making the education system more inclusive.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Social Affairs (MINAC) launched a national awareness campaign for this purpose in Yaoundé. Minister Pauline Irène Nguéné says all stakeholders, including parents, will be involved in this cause.
"It is up to us to deploy all the necessary strategies to make sure that our system is more inclusive in the next few years. The result we are seeking from this intensive awareness-raising campaign, which will be spread throughout the year, is an increase in the enrollment rate of disabled children. We want to create a society where every child, including those with disabilities, fits in,” the official said, stressing that being out of the education system reinforces their level of poverty and makes them more exposed to social exclusion, violence, and discrimination.
Many factors have been cited to explain the low level of education of these children. These include parental ignorance of the importance of education for children, lack of infrastructure and school programs for children with disabilities, and most importantly, a non-inclusive environment.
Law No. 2010/002 of April 13, 2010, on the protection and promotion of persons with disabilities and the implementing decree require the State to take specific measures to ensure access to inclusive education. Moreover, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by Cameroon on December 28, 2021, also calls on the State to ensure that children with disabilities are not excluded, due to their disability, from free and compulsory primary or secondary education.
Pauline Irène Nguéné recalled that the government, through the Ministry of Social Affairs (Minas) and the Ministries in charge of education, is working to increase the number of educational centers dedicated to such children. Currently, there are about 70 inclusive schools in Cameroon, and the minister is calling on parents of children with disabilities to resort to these centers.
As a reminder, the NGO Liliane Fonds, in collaboration with the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services (CBCHS), has launched a campaign called “We Ring the Bell" to support the government’s actions. It aims to raise awareness and encourage public action towards promoting inclusive education.
Translated from French by Firmine AIZAN
Written by Patricia Ngo Ngouem