Cameroon launched a pilot program on January 24 aimed at using music to empower youth, promote social cohesion, and combat violence in schools. The "Je suis musique" initiative, backed by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Spanish Embassy, debuted at the Government Bilingual Practising High School in Yaounde.
"Music has the power to bring about social cohesion," Nadine Perrault, UNICEF representative in Cameroon, said at the launch. "It softens morals. We hope to have a choir and music in every school."
The program initially focuses on school choirs, but UNICEF plans to expand it to include orchestras, regular music classes, and after-school programs for out-of-school teenagers. The goal is not only to provide musical training but also to use music as a tool for conflict resolution and promoting peaceful coexistence.
"Singing inspires very high moral values," said Cameroon's Minister of Secondary Education Nalova Lyonga. "In Cameroon, where we have many problems with the language of hatred, music should be one of the means of inspiring our children to live together peacefully."
The initiative comes amid rising concerns about violence in Cameroonian schools. According to Ministry of Secondary Education data, there were 11 major incidents of school violence resulting in death between 2018 and 2022. Authorities are increasingly turning to partnerships with organizations like UNICEF to tackle this issue.