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UNICEF supplies provide a fresh start for 200 flood impacted schools in Northern Cameroon

© UNICEF Cameroon / 2013 /Nkuo
School Directors and Head masters excitedly take charge of their school supplies in cartons and packing cases ready at the ceremonial ground in Maroua.
Maroua (Far North) Cameroon - 27 February 2013 - It’s an unusually bright and sunny day today, unlike the grey and dreary days of August and September last year when floods destroyed schools in Northern Cameroon. One can sense the excitement in the air as we see early in the morning school directors from 170 schools trooping in at Harde Government Primary school to collect much needed UNICEF supplied textbooks and learning supplies to be handed over by Ms. Youssouf Hadidja Alim, Minister of Basic Education. The same excitement will be there tomorrow when 30 schools receive the materials in Garoua (North).

Hurriedly they get down to look at the labels on the boxes and trunks neatly lined up on the school ground. Every now and then one can hear an excited voice when they notice their school’s name and proudly take their position right behind the materials.  Ms. Amina Ibrahim, 39 years old director of Government Primary School Lopere in Maroua II Sub-Division is one of them. “I am happily relieved because my teachers faced lot of difficulties to prepare their lesson notes as well as exams due to lack of books. Now they will work better”.

Following heavy rains and flooding in late August and September, flood emergencies were declared in both the regions, already trying to come out of the Sahel crisis. The estimated number of flood displaced persons was reported as 90,995 (50,824 persons in the North and 40,171 in the Far North region). Floods hit one week before the start of the new school year affecting 170 primary schools impacting schooling of 61,646 school going children.

Through the Ministry of Basic Education UNICEF provided the Government of Cameroon with classroom teaching materiel worth $626,685 (302,746,394 FCFA) for flood affected schools in North and Far-North. The materials comprise of 96,000 text books, 10,220 school bags, 18 tents, schools in a box, recreation kits, plus hygiene supplies such as soap, and cholera prevention comics. Each school received a package of 480 essential textbooks for use in each level of the primary education cycle. UNICEF worked in partnership with PLAN International and, PUBLIC CONCERN to respond to the flood emergency that coincided with the opening of the annual school year.

© UNICEF Cameroon / 2013 /Nkuo
Ms. Youssouf Hadidja Alim, Minister of Basic Education, flanked by Mr. Geoff Wiffin UNICEF Representative, on her left, and Mr. Fonka Augustine, Governor of Far North Region, on her right at the official handing over ceremony.

Speaking on the occasion of officially handing the gift to the head teachers Ms. Youssouf Hadidja Alim, Minister of Basic Education said, “I kindly plead to all the head teachers who have received these important gifts to use them judiciously and carefully to impact knowledge on our children and improve their performances in school”. She was accompanied by Mr. Fonka Augustine, Governor of Far North Region and UNICEF representative Mr. Geoff Wiffin. She also called upon the Parents Teacher’s Association to collaborate with school authorities to make appropriate and good use of the invaluable materials.

Mr. Saissidi Abartouang, head teacher of Government Primary School Djowelnandji in Yagoua recalled how children studies were affected as books were destroyed and classroom swept away with the floods. “The performance of students in the first quarter really went down. I am very happy with these timely gifts as this will help us improve their performance.”

The children were equally excited looking at new bags and books. 9 years old Axelle Ndeukam, class 6 student of Government School Harde, conveyed her thanks to the minister. “During the floods, I was not happy because I could not go to school. The books given by the minister are a gesture of good heart and intention which also shows us that if we are educated, we will one day get good jobs and become a minister like herself”.

Speaking on the occasion Mr Geoff Wiffin, UNICEF Cameroon Representative thanked the European Union, France, the United States, Britain and Canada for their responsiveness to UNICEF’s call for funding during the emergency. He also said, “We hope you enjoy receiving these school materials and assure you that we will continue to work closely under the leadership of MINEDUB in partnership with offices at central and regional levels.”

“These actions demonstrate the true partnership between MINEDUB and UNICEF--our joint responsiveness and commitment to provide critically positioned support in a time of emergency to improve the quality of life of children in the aftermath of a crisis” said Dr. Vijitha M. Eyango, UNICEF Cameroon Chief of Education. “Our future actions will be to sustain the effort through longer term strategic assistance to the affected regions”.



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