TALKING POINTS FOR MEDIA
Q1) What is We Ring The Bell Campaign all about?
- This is a campaign that takes place in some 120 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin American each year and seeks to draw public attention, but most especially the attention of power holders on the need to improve access to education for Children with disabilities.
- So far more than 120,000 decision-makers have already been mobilized in those countries who committed to take action towards the education of children with disabilities.
- Cameroon joined in the Campaign in 2016 through the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services (CBCHS) and since then the campaign is gradually gaining ground in the country.
- This 2021, MINAS is leading the organisation of the campaign with the Ministry of Basic Education, and the Ministry of Secondary Education in collaboration with CBCHS, the Liliane Fonds, implementing Partner Organizations and other actors in the education system. WRTB is a strategy to improve the country’s performance under UN’s SDG4 which calls on countries to promote Inclusive Education as key means to realize sustainable development.
- Due to the COVID 19 health crisis, the 2021 campaign will be purely virtual and will rely on new technologies to achieve its objectives
Q1) What specific challenges do children with disabilities face, with regards to education in Cameroon?
- There is a significant imbalance between children without disabilities compared to Organisations who have access to education. While over 95% of children without disabilities have access to education, over 90% of their peers with disabilities have never seen the four walls of a classroom. In other words only 1 out of 10 children with disabilities has access to education in our country.
- Factors that contribute to this inequality are negative attitudes, curriculum that is not adapted, environment (not accessible), and transport system not adapted.
- Worse, the 2010 law on disability and its 2018 decree of application, which are intended to bridge these gaps, is also poorly known by many and hence unevenly implemented.
- The result is 90% children with disabilities continue to be denied access to education.
Q2) Who are the principal actors you want to reach through this campaign?
- The General public:
- To desist from stigmatizing and discriminating against children with Disabilities.
- Encourage parents who have Organisations to send the children to school.
- Parents of children with disabilities:
- Some feel ashamed or think that educating their children is a waste of time and resources (e.g cases of children locked up in homes or not sent to school)
- There are countless examples of successful cases of Organisations in our communities and in the world; some of whom are major bread winners in their families.
- Those successes confirm that Organisations equally have huge potentials that simply need to be explored.
- Quality education is the key that can help unlock these potentials.
- Local government authorities such as Councils:
- In the context of effective decentralization, councils play a key role in development. They should prioritize inclusive education in their development plans.
- Councils should invest in making schools, within their jurisdiction, more accessible for all, including Organisations by building ramps, hiring inclusive teachers, equipping the schools and even providing scholarships to Organisations. (e.g case of pilot inclusive schools with resource centers etc.)
- Government Ministries like MINSEC, MINEDUB, MINAS:
- To ensure that government policies around the education of Organisations are fully respected. (e.g the case of the 2010 law and its 2018 text of application on the promotion and protection of the rights of Organisations is not well understood or implemented by all)
- It is also government’s responsibility to ensure there is an adequate number of teachers who are trained on inclusive teaching techniques.
- It is also important for government to ensure that the school curriculum takes into consideration the needs of learners with impairment.
- And also that accessibility options are considered when constructing school infrastructures (e.g access roads to schools, school toilets, facilities etc.).
Q3: Is inclusive education possible? For instance can a completely blind or deaf child study together with other children who do not have similar impairment?
- Yes, inclusive education is very possible and very effective too. (e.g case of CBCHS has successfully piloted inclusiveness in some government, private and CBC schools in the Northwest (at 17 schools) and West regions)
- It requires teachers that are trained on inclusive education techniques and a school environment that is friendly for all learners, including those with disabilities.
- As part of this campaign in 2020, we introduced the use of an assessment toolkit (Welcome to School Suitcase) which was used by children themselves to assess whether or not their school is inclusive. The result was that most of the schools are not very accessible.
Q4: What activities have been planned for this year given its peculiar (virtual celebration?)
- This year, as a three-day event, we have organized two Webinars on the 19th and 20th of April. The Webinar on the 19th is under the theme: “The Education of children with disabilities in Cameroon: from policy to practice”. This Webinar shall showcase thecommitment of key stakeholders to the education of learners with disabilities. It is an open discussion on the policy landscape and legal context of inclusive education in Cameroon. This will enlighten us on achievements and challenges in this domain, and identify transformative opportunities for the future.
- The Webinar on the 20th is under the theme: “Implementation of Inclusive Education: Actors and beneficiary experiences”. This will be an experience sharing forum among beneficiary structures and actors on Inclusive Education. The practical implications involved in the implementation, and the needs of Inclusive Education will be elaborated. Let’s hear from frontline actors – schools and children who have evidence-based solutions for a better Inclusive Education in Cameroon as well as In-country support to inclusive education from partner organizations (UNICEF, CBM, SIGHTSAVERS, and Liliane Foundation)
- The D-Day which is the Program Conference comes up on the 22nd of April.
Theme: Leave no Child with a disability behind in education:
Educating a child with a disability is building an inclusive nation
This virtual conference seeks to mobilize existing opportunities to address barriers and strengthen the practice of inclusive education in Cameroon. Highlights on the activities of this day will include
- A welcome and program overview by the Director of the CBC Health Services, Prof. Tih Pius Muffih
- The Official opening by the Minister of Social Affairs Mrs. Pauline Irene Nguéne
- Panel Discussion: Inclusive education in Cameroon: Perspective by MINEDUB and MINESEC
- Presentation: CBCHS’ contribution to Inclusive Education in Cameroon
- The Future of Inclusive Education in Cameroon by (UNICEF, UNESCO, Liliane Fonds, CBM and SIGHTSAVERS)
Q5: What role can I play and how can I participate.
- Each and every one of us has a role to play by actively taking part in this advocacy campaign and also to ensure that we act as ambassadors for the education of any child with a disability. We can be advocates in our communities, places of work, in our churches and everywhere we find ourselves. You can continue to share this information to your friends to be part of this informative and educative event. Information is power and we all possess that power.
- Participation this year has been made easy online.
Join this advocacy campaign on
For more information visit:
WhatsApp Group: https://chat.whatsapp.com/ISqbEZ9Z9Jm2QhGOF8YQsR
Q4: What will happen next after the campaign? Do you think ringing these bells will be enough to bring about the needed change?
- We ring the bell is not a one – day event. It is an all year round advocacy strategy. Although we are ringing the bells on April 22, several advocacy meetings have taken place with key decision makers in the country, in view of making access to education better for Organisations.
- After April 22, which to us is just a culminating point, we will continue to meet and discuss education access challenges for children with disabilities with relevant education stakeholders and key decision makers in the country.
- Our priorities going forward will be to improve the physical environment of schools and to ensure that there is full implementation of the existing policy – namely the 2010 law and its 2018 text of application. We believe that if all stakeholders fully play their role, as defined by this policy, great progress would have been made by the time we are meeting next year to ring the bells again.