By Akem Olives Nkwain
Yaoundé-Cameroon, April 17, 2022 – The sound of bells has resounded loudest in Cameroon to call on all, to get on board in promoting and fostering the education of children with disabilities.
Children with disabilities are more likely to miss out on school than other children. In Cameroon 9 out of 10 children with disabilities are out of school. Not too often because of their disability, but, due to ignorance on the part of parents and attitudinal barriers in the immediate communities, worse in the school milieu.
Even if they go to school, they are more likely to leave before finishing their primary education because of lack of finances to acquire assistive devices and unadopted structures limiting access, especially to those with mobility and vision impairments.
Despite the gloomy situation, breaking all barriers stalking the education of children with disabilities is paramount – for it is a fundamental human right that can only be achieved with all and everyone involved.
It is in that light, that both government and civil society in Cameroon have subscribed to making the loudest noise on and about the education of children with disabilities. Through the “We Ring the Bell Campaign”, they are making their voices heard: “Every child with a disability deserves quality education”.
“We Ring the Bell,” an initiative of Liliane Fonds is aimed at promoting good quality and inclusive education for all children not limited to children with disabilities. Organized yearly in 120 countries, it has become the rallying point for awareness-raising in matters of inclusive education.
Pauline Irene Nguene, Cameroon’s Minister of Social Affairs says the “We Ring the Bell” in Cameroon is a campaign bent on mobilizing all stakeholders to take necessary measures to allow children with disabilities access education. “We strongly support this advocacy and will do all it takes to garner the support of local and international partners towards it,” she said. Everyone has a right to education. I hereby called on families of Children with Disabilities to send their children to school. I call on key actors to come on board the train and support the education of these children, said Mrs. Nguene.
The “We Ring the Bell” 2022 was organized by Cameroon’s Ministry of Social Affairs. Having the government take over the initiative from the Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC) Health Services in 2021, after several years of successful editions, is proof of what private-public partnership can do.
The CBC Health Services, strategic partner of Liliane Fonds began the campaign in Cameroon as part of its services to persons with disabilities under the flagship of the Empowerment Disability Inclusive Development (EDID) program. At the start, it was an eye-opener and advocacy to government. Having come thus far to have the government take relay to organize subsequent editions is a huge win to the CBC Health Services and Liliane Foundation.
From the successful organization of the 2022 edition with CBC Health Services providing just technical support, there is hope on the horizon that the government is committed to doing more for the education of children with disabilities.
This is indeed a right step, in the right direction in opening the world for a child with a disability through education.