When the learned Professor Emeritus Bernard Fonlon was ridiculed by a contemporary because he did not have houses like his friends, he answered: “You build houses, but I build men.”
The learned philosopher’s reply sums up the whole value of education. Every sensible human being knows that the best assets a parent can give their offspring is a sound education. Educating a child is putting up skyscrapers in his mind.
If there is any species of Cameroonian, who upholds this lofty principle, it is the Bamenda man. The North West parent would rather eat food without oil, or move about in rags than allow their child to stay at home. This further explains why the Parent Teacher Association, PTA, puts up infrastructure in schools and even employs and pays auxiliary staff.
But a greater proof of a Bamenda man’s attachment to education is the number of private higher institutions in Bamenda. There is the Bamenda University of Science and Technology, BUST, which is graduating students up to the Masters Degree. Some of these students come from neighboring Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. Then there is the National Polytechnic in Bambui, of one multi-talented Bobe Francis Young. National Polytechnique Bambui has graduated students in various useful disciplines including Journalism and Computer Science. Like BUST, it has numerous students from Equatorial Guinea. There is also FONAB, of Dr. Peter Fonche, a science researcher. Recently, the Catholic and Presbyterian Churches also heeded the call for quality education by creating two Universities: The Catholic University, with campus in Nkwen; and the Christian University in Bali. Bambili has the ENS, First and Second Cycles, as well as the Higher Teachers’ Technical College. Despite the existence of these institutions of higher learning, North Westerners are still yearning for a State institution, because there are fees charged by the lay private and Mission institutions which are prohibitive.
At the level of academic performance, the North West is exemplary. The best results at the GCE, as well as in technical education, are usually produced by the North West. Students from other Regions, who do not perform well or think they could do better, travel to study in the North West because of the conducive academic environment. Discipline and moral education are values which have inspired parents in most parts of Cameroon to send their children to study in the North West. Schools like Sacred Heart College Mankon, St. Bede’s College Ashing, Our Lady of Lourdes and P.S.S. Mankon are models. The quality of education in the North West is enhanced by the activities of the Cameroon Teacher’s Trade Union, CATTU. The most dynamic Teachers Trade Union in Cameroon, CATTU has its headquarters in Bamenda and is headed by the fearless, no-nonsense Simon Nkwenti.
CATTU is fast restoring sanity and dignity to the teaching profession, a profession which had been thrown to the dogs and which many regard as meant for those who have nowhere else to go. Listen to Mr. Simon Nkwenti: “I have not signed a pact with misery;” and he encourages all his colleagues to think and feel same. CATTU recently held a seminar in Bamenda to empower CATTU women to come out with a code of ethics for teachers.
Here in Bamenda, teachers even have a Credit Union where money can be saved for the rainy day and borrowed to improve the lot of the teacher.
The Union of Parents and Teachers Association, UPTA, led by Mr. Joseph Amuntum, also has its headquarters in Bamenda.
Yes, we can be proud! The rest of Cameroon has an infinite lot of things to learn from Bamenda in so far as education is concerned.