By Fotabong Syntia
The CBC Health Services in collaboration with the Ministries of Social Affairs (MINAS), Secondary Education (MINESEC), and Basic Education (MINEDUB) have organized the “We Ring the Bell” annual campaign under the theme “Leave no child with a disability behind in education”. The three-day virtual campaign which ran from April 19-22, 2021 aimed at raising awareness and encouraging public action to promote the education of children with disabilities.
The campaign was hosted at the CBC Health Services Resource Center of Excellence, Mvan, Yaounde, and presided over by the Minister of Social Affairs, Mrs. Pauline Irene Nguene, and the Director of CBC Health Services, Prof Tih Pius Muffih. Other key dignitaries included: the Empowerment and Disability Inclusive Development (EDID) Program Manager, Mrs. Agho Glory and the Director of the Department of Persons with Disability and the Elderly at MINAS, Mrs. Ambe Angelica, members of the organizing bodies (MINAS, MINESEC, MINEDUB, CBC Health Services) and members of some implementing partner organizations.
Taking the front seat to advocate for inclusive education for children with disability in Cameroon, the Minister of Social Affairs, Mrs. Pauline Irene Nguene extended a call to stakeholders and the general public to take the lead as well in ringing the bell to ensure that over 90% of children with disabilities who do not go to school have access to education.
The MINAS boss emphasized that the 2010 law on disability and its 2018 text of application intend to bridge the gap and promote inclusive education for children with disabilities. In this wise, the Minister resolved to equip educative and training facilities with resource centers, assistive devices, and trained staff to be able to deliver inclusive learning. She also resolved to ensure that new school constructions are accessible to children with disabilities.
In a bid to remove barriers in the educational environment, the Director of CBC Health Services (DHS), Prof. Tih Pius Muffih said, the CBC Health Services has remained committed to infrastructural modifications to provide access for children with disabilities. The public health expert added that the CBC Health Services also provides specialized equipment, audio, and other relevant devices, Braille, and sign language to enable children with disabilities to study effectively.
The DHS further emphasized that the campaign will engage key decision-makers to strengthen their commitment to the education of learners with disabilities and raise awareness among the general public on the need and the benefits of equitably educating all children without discrimination.
The Director of the Department of Persons with Disability and the Elderly at MINAS, Mrs. Ambe Angelica used the occasion to stress that the government has put in place structures to address the needs of persons with disabilities, citing a 2015 agreement with MINEDUB with which MINAS created 68 pilot inclusive schools in Cameroon.
The “We Ring the Bell” campaign provided a forum for experience sharing among beneficiary structures and actors on inclusive education, the practical implications involved in the implementation as well as in-country support to inclusive education from partner organizations such as UNICEF, UNESCO, CBM, Sight Savers and Liliane Foundation. Notwithstanding, the online conferences also stimulated the implementation of innovative strategies to optimize and promote the access to education of children with disabilities and thus contribute to speeding up the achievements of UN SDG4 in Cameroon.
Since 2016, the CBC Health services through the support of the Liliane Foundation has been organizing the “We Ring the Bell” campaign. In 2020, MINAS took over the leadership of the campaign and now organizes it annually in collaboration with the CBCHS and other actors in the education system.
“We Ring the Bell” Campaign is sponsored by the Liliane Foundation to advocate for the education of children with disabilities.