The scars of insecurity in the Far North Region instigated by recurrent raids by the Islamic activist group, Boko Haram are still very much visible in many schools across the region.
Over 70 schools, mostly primary schools in areas closer to the border with neighbouring Nigeria such as Logone and Chari, Mayo-Sava and MayoTsanaga have greatly been affected. Boko Haram attacks on villages and schools forced students and teachers to flee to other localities like the central towns of Kolofata and Mora.
Just a handful of government teachers assigned to the Far North Region remained in their posts. In 2014, more than 200 trained teachers did not take up their posts in these localities and many took refuge in other places due to insecurity.
This state of affairs rendered education in the Far North in serious jeopardy not only because schools in the region were being shunned by teachers, but above all because no additional funding was being given to schools absorbing pupils from other establishments.
The consequences of the insurgency were far reaching. Companies working on several projects in the area were forced to abandon them for fear of being attacked by terrorists. Of course, social projects including those that concerned the construction of schools finance by the French Contract and Development debt relief programme [C2D] were all abandoned.
The signing of the agreement between the Minister Delegate at the Presidency in charge of the Defence on the one hand and the Ministers of Basic Education and Secondary Education on the other gives the green light with the approval of the French government to the Military Engineering corps to take over the project to rehabilitate schools in the area.
The project which begins in June to stretch for a year will see the construction of 121 classrooms, rehabilitation of five classrooms, 14 administrative blocks, 28 latrines, and 15 boreholes.
All this will cost FCFA 1.7 billion. Education as we know does not only end in bookwork. Infrastructure plays an important role in the enhancement of knowledge. The handing over of the project to the military remains quite assuring considering that the technicians will play a double role; constructing the infrastructure and securing the area from terrorist attacks. Organised by the Decree of July, 2001, the Directorate of Military Engineering and joined vocational training, has proven its worth in project execution.
They have as mission to undertake the following: infrastructure technical studies, work management and control, establishment of engineering combat units, training of staff, infrastructure maintenance and engineering support for the army among others. Work done by the military engineering is believed to be cheaper and efficient because such projects are executed under serious discipline.
The wish of many a Cameroonian after the signing of yesterday’s agreement is that the project takes off smoothly for children to go back to school next academic year with the zeal to perform better for a brighter future.