Cameroon: Always Think of the Future

OPINIONBy Nkendem Forbinake

For many years, the Cameroonian university system was reprimanded for its incapacity of addressing the development needs of the country....

because, far too often, studies were geared toward general education with hundreds of thousands of graduates thrown into the streets without jobs. With the lone university located in Yaounde in the late 1980, the government, from the early 1990s decided to decentralize the university system by creating many other universities out of Yaounde. But even above that, the government wanted to address, in a very efficient manner, training in those disciplines which could immediately address the developmental needs of the country by "professionalizing" the various training institutions it had just created.

The University reforms of the early 1990s came to vindicate this voluntary government policy. And the results were not late in coming. Not only did the normal or existing universities extended their teaching programmes to meet with the exigencies of the local employment market; the government proceeded to wide-ranging reforms leading to the encouragement of the creation of private universities all over the national territory.

Many tax initiatives were accorded to some of these universities by way of importing equipment that was going to largely impact on new training opportunities. With the government fully involved in applying its programme to reach economic emergence status by the year 2035 effectively launched, the arrival of new tertiary institutions offering new and adapted courses to meet these new exigencies could only be most welcome.

Government, in its desire to meet these objectives, was rather loose; and this explains why not all of those higher education institutions registered with the objective of providing highly-qualified technicians and other specialists has been difficult to attain. Along the line and obviously abusing government's good intentions, many higher institutions claiming to train highly qualified staff have not lived up to expectation. The situation is that which we observe today.

But it is far from a fatality! It just requires a shift in government policy to properly address the shortcomings observed today in correcting the errors of the past and in better ensuring that institutions that claim to offer training, especially in badly needed areas, are effectively capable of doing so. These are obstacles our government will inexorably go through; but for the future - especially that envisaged by the public authorities - there is no other way of addressing the problem of getting to emergence status by 2035 than by ensuring that training institutions do their job in the way and manner the government desires; because the future of Cameroon strongly relies on the ability of its training institutions to deliver.

Source: All Africa