Focusing On Concerns By Teachers

The decision announced on Saturday 4 February, 2017, by teachers’ trade unions of the Anglophone educational subsystem to suspend their sit-in action and give room for government to apply measures taken within the context of past negotiations with the teachers is certainly appreciable in the long-drawn-out drama. Since 21 November, 2016 when they downed tools and children remained without classes, no one could foresee the turn of events. Suddenly we have moved from a problem presented by teachers wading into that of the Common Law lawyers and eventually to the thorny issue of Anglophone marginalisation in Cameroon. 
Such amalgamation has appeared like an unfolding theatrical piece with too many sub-plots that can only be rivalled by any of Shakespeare’s best melodramatic tour de force. Within such a context, those who signed to suspend the strike certainly decided to stay focused on their initial goals irrespective of the ramifications that the issues had taken. The interwoven nature of what some had been hard-pressed to accept as an Anglophone problem either deprived the teachers of their struggle for the protection of the English subsystem of education or pushed them into political quagmire.
The first of such complications is that by dragging the teachers into issues about the form of the State and insisting that such concerns about Anglophones in Cameroon that have been ongoing for over 50 years should be settled within the twinkle of an eye will never, in all fairness, be left in the hands of teachers. Those who hijacked the strike action by the teachers’ trade unions have had only one trump card, the future of students. To achieve their goals, through making students scapegoats, has been worrisome to government and most parents who are conscious about the education of their progeny.
Secondly, the inbuilt misgivings expressed along the line have been such that even the official position and public discourse that recognises the legitimacy of the issues expressed by the teachers have not brought back hardliners into the fold. Like in every good theatrical piece, back stage strings have remained in the shadows of the Prime Minister’s calls for rationale from the striking teachers. Mr Yang in two outings in the North West Region and one in the South West Region, as the realities of the strike unfolded, sought to make the teachers understand the importance of their role in society. Above all, the Head of State pointed out clearly in his end-of-year address to the nation on 31, December 2016 that; “All the voices that spoke have been heard. They have, in many cases, raised substantive issues that cannot be overlooked.”  The simple reading here is that the concerns are not being swept under the carpet by any one. It therefore became normal that the teachers remain focused on their initial claims as a professional corps while the politicians take over the rest without any fear of people being tasked or stigmatized as sell outs or any of the names that those bent on derailing the movement from its initial objective want to present issues.
A third phase of the drama has been the dismantling role of the social media and the proliferation of toxic literature that, at times, see anonymous tags with utterly alarming messages destined to create a psyche of fear and distrust between government and the population. It has in some cases even bordered on throwing to mob justice those who dare to stay focused on the objectives of the strike action by teachers.  Suspending the strike therefore, under such conditions is undoubtedly a courageous decision that must be saluted and hailed in its proper context, especially if that is accompanied by goodwill from all parties involved in the saga so far.



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