The Zeal for Education by the Children of Ichim Village of Oku,

Bui Division of the North West Region of Cameroon

Back in my primary school days in the 1980s, it was common to find some parents accompany their children right to the school grounds because they never wanted to learn or would leave their homes just to remain playing on the way until it was closing time and they would go back and tell lies to their parents that they attended school. Some wise parents had to check the exercise books to catch their children if they had nothing written on them, in order to discipline them so that they could go to school and learn.

Since the crisis in the Anglophone Cameroon began in 2016, I am sure that the children who would never have loved to go to school, would have been very happy. They would have been thanking God for such an opportunity not to be at school.

But after about seven years of not being able to go to school and tired of the sounds of all kinds of guns ranging from locally fabricated ones to the well fabricated imported ones, nearly every child seems to have discovered the value of education not withstanding their parents and all those who know what education does to the life of a human being.

From 2021, when we had a window of opportunity to start schools in Oku, it was the joy of our children and their parents. Impoverished as they were by the crisis, it was not easy. But we have been more than determined to make these children learn because they have already lost many years at home. Their future will not be the same again.

Every village in our Jikijem and Ibal area of work that I visit, children would gather around me with concerns such as: ‘‘Father, when will schools re-open? Start a school for us Father. We have never gone to school Father or we have overstayed at home Father.’’ Parents too were not differing with their children, as they too saw me as one who can solve their problem.

I took it upon myself to make sure that each village should have a place where children should gather and learn. I faced many threats and challenges but I could not give up to see the future of these children go down the drain. One of such villages where I recently attended to their educational needs by setting up a school, is Ichim village.

This present academic year, according to our arrangement in Ichim village, began at the end of the month of August 2023. We got teachers to do the job. Children came in their numbers. Since we had no building, we begged the houses of some of the people whom crisis had displaced. Be it someone’s kitchen, store house or sitting room, we needed only places where children could sit and learn. What a joy I have been seeing on the children’s faces as they come to school.

Most of them arrive at school well in time before their teachers, showing the zeal to learn. Interestingly, one public holiday, I found children on my way from the Church with school bags coming to school. As I inquired, I told them that it was not a school day but they were instead begging me to call the teachers to come to school and teach them. It touched me that these children are really craving for any opportunity to be in school now.

In conclusion, I can say times have changed. The children have become desperate to study but facilities are not there. Pray for our situation.

Fr. Cyprian Ta-ah, MHM.

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