Students, pupils and teachers in Cameroon resumed school on Monday, to mark the beginning of the 2017/2018 academic year.
Classrooms were alive in most parts of the country with students reuniting with friends and teachers, but the excitement was rare in the two English speaking regions of Cameroon.
The North West and South West regions observed a record breaking timid school reopening with some schools having less than 100 students, despite the presence of the minister of Secondary Education Jean-Ernest Massena Ngalle Bibehe, in these regions to ensure a successful school reopening.
Some schools in Bamenda remained closed, while others which opened their doors had only teachers in attendance, a situation that was keenly monitored after the disruption of classes for six months in these two regions last year following a general strike organised by teachers’ unions and lawyers.
Ghost town could still be observed in the two regions as business centres remained closed while very few taxis or motor bikes circulated in the streets.
The release of some English-speaking activists last week after seven months of detention following a decree signed by Cameroonian Head of State Paul Biya, helped defuse the tension, but could not guarantee a successful school reopening which was the wish of the government.
The Cameroon government said it had unleashed CFA 4 billion francs as a special subsidy to allow smooth reopening of closed schools, and has created a “school police” to report to the authorities any suspicious information likely to disturb public order.
Photo credit: Nfor Hanson Nchanji