Academic journal article International Journal of Education

Implementing Inclusive Education in Cameroon: Evidence from the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Board

Academic journal article International Journal of Education

Implementing Inclusive Education in Cameroon: Evidence from the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Board

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article examines the implementation of inclusive education (IE) in Cameroon. Evidence in support of the practice in Cameroon is extrapolated from the activities of the SEEPD (socio-economic empowerment of persons with disabilities) program of the CBCHB (Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Board). After establishing a number of shortcomings in terms of policy, the paper underlines that there are a plethora of legal instruments both national and international backing the implementation of inclusive education in Cameroon. An examination of IE models both in the western world and in Africa leaves the conclusion that Cameroon can draw from some of the underpinning principles in these areas yet would develop its own model based on work already being done by the SEEPD program in order to suit the social context. The paper thus proposes such a model for Cameroon. The challenges of implementing IE such as attitudes, policy, infrastructure, curriculum, and teaching learning material are considered surmountable especially if attitudes of teachers begin to change. While recognising that it takes time, commitment and effort for IE to be successful and above all sustainable, the paper proposes that instead of waiting in-fine for government policy or intervention, there is need to set the pace for IE in Cameroon using the immediate resources available rather than allow thousands to lose their human and inalienable right to education.

Keywords: inclusive education; impairment; attitudes; challenges; policy

1. Introduction

One of the peculiarities of the human being is the ability to transmit knowledge from one generation to the other. That is why in the assessment of knowledge, a comparison is always made between previous and recent practice. Politicians will agree with me that the education ministries constitute one of the sectors with substantial budgetary allocations. This underscores the centrality of education to the general essence of human existence. It is therefore not an exaggeration to posit that denying someone the right to education in whatever way is a tantamount to terminating such a person's existence. This explains why a lot of policy is often developed, revised and reviewed to ensure the achievement of this goal. However, the insistence on human rights (Note 1) and especially Education For All(Note 2) aroused curiosity amongst researchers in the field. The implication was that education had not been for all. This explains the burning need for education policy that was going to involve everyone; hence the coming into the limelight of inclusive education.

Despite the enormity of literature and implementation policy developed so far the world over; Cameroon seems to have been exempted from this wind of change. Though efforts such as the 2003 laws making basic education free and compulsory for all Cameroonians have been made, there is no pause to think about learners with disabilities. It is worth noting that efforts towards educating these learners in Cameroon have been made solely by nongovernmental organisations. Such education has been in purely specialised schools (schools for the deaf and schools for the blind are found in many regions in the country). The Cameroon Baptist Convention (later CBC), owners of a number of such schools became pioneers in advocating for the implementation of inclusive education in Cameroon. It is within this caveat that this paper while raising the question, examines in detail the CBC experience in implementing inclusive education before proposing strategies that would ensure a complete move from policy to practice within the realms of inclusive education in Cameroon.

1 Inclusion: Policy or Practice?

The term inclusion has been preponderant in the literature on education from the latter part of the 20th to the 21st century. From a linguistic perspective, the term is derived from the verb to include which means "to have as a component part, to enclose within, to place in a general category aggregate" Websters (2010). …

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