Members of the Ad hoc Inter-ministerial Committee tasked with proposing solutions to the problems raised by the Anglophone Teachers’ trade unions ended a marathon session in the North-West regional capital, Bamenda at past mid night on Friday 13 January 2017.
The meeting held after the first attempt ended in deadlock. But discussing for so long and concluding with the school-going population in the two regions still uncertain about their future is mind-boggling. While government has at all levels taken the commitment to fulfil its own part of the engagements and given the measures so far put in place by the State to build confidence, respecting the timelines ought to be a detail while the other concerns could be discussed in the appropriate forums.
Since the teachers’ trade unions started their sit-in action on 21 November 2016, schools have remained grounded in the two Anglophone regions following a list of grievances presented by the teachers. Unfortunately, there have been interfering voices that either sought to create division or confuse minds to ensure that things do not move on well. The current trend of events, points to a total diversion by the teachers to a political arena whereby children have to stay at home and be obliged to play a centre role because their return to class, according to the trade unionists, is predicated on the release of suspects and the need to change the form of the State.
Yet, to quote one of the trade unionist, Tassang Wilfred, “All the concerns we raised have been sorted out except for those that were not part of the committee.” Understandably therefore, the Chair of the Committee, Prof. Ghogomu Paul Mingo in a press statement on 16 January,2017 (see CT of Tuesday 17 January 2017 page 6) stated categorically that the conclusions of his deliberations with members of the committee have been forwarded to the Prime Minister, Head of Government for the high attention of the Head of State. It is now evident that the trade unionists are no longer playing by the initial rule of the game. Shifting the goal post after each shot, as the case seems to be, will hardly help matters.
Allowing the initial motives of the teachers’ sit-in action to be hijacked by others, no matter the justifications, raises questions and also keeps many bewildered. The idea that children will be safer at home has quickly shown its limits, especially with the incendiary literature being dished out by people who continue to run their affairs either from a safe distance abroad or in the country, telling teachers and students to stay at home.
The social media have now provided safety valves for people who think that until they get their way, nothing can function. Thus, outright manoeuvring, false information and acts of verbal intimation being circulated are such that the same youth who feel depressed will easily get so radicalised that even those who call for immediate solutions will in no way guarantee any better future for anyone. Like in every conflict, there are those who may hardly weigh the consequences of their words and actions until they are faced with the inevitable.
Creating room for such views to carry the day could be synonymous to building an illusory social order whereby jungle justice will keep no one safe, let alone the school children who need to study. The prophets of doom have seen only gory images and predicted fatality and chaos in the wake of the concerns raised by teachers and also the Common Law Lawyers. Reason can still prevail with due consideration given to the future of youth; and no one can guarantee such a future better than the State.