Mbonweh Women’s Development Association, MWDA in partnership with United Nations Children’s Education Fund, UNICEF is currently taking education to thousands of children across the Southwest region of Cameroon, whose communities have been deprived of formal classroom teaching and learning because of the ongoing Anglophone Crisis.
The organisation, founded by the late Dorothy Atabong in 1988, had as its mission, a goal to economically empower women and girls in order to elevate their status in society, through economically empowering training and activities. With the coming of the Anglophone crisis and its resulting hostile approach to education, the organisation with its deep roots in affected communities decided to intervene in the area of education, by introducing learning through the use of a radio. In the communities where the programme has been introduced, MWDA and UNICEF have put in place facilitators, who are trained educationists, to guide and coordinate the learning programme for children in those areas. “As an organisation led by educationists, we know education cannot wait”, says Dr Evelyn Nojang, President Coordinator of MWDA. She also revealed that apart from the education programme, the organisation is also carrying out vocational training programmes that target and empower persons displaced as a result of the war. This segment of persons is trained on economically empowering stories that enable them to make a living in their host communities.
Talking to the media on the Radio Education Programme, the project’s Humanitarian Affairs Officer, Ndobesang Sylvanus said the Radio Education project which focuses on literacy and numerical learning, the project also gives out protection messages. He said the project also serves as a means to give parenting lessons in Pidgin English to parents in conflict communities. He revealed that when the project began in 2020, it aimed to reach 3,500 kids, but in the end, they succeeded to reach out to 6,700 kids, and as such, decided to scale it up to 5,000 kids, and ended up reaching 7,000 in remote areas in the Southwest region.
He said the programme now reaches several communities in the region, and due to rising needs, part of it has also been dedicated to teaching young girls and women on how to go about their personal hygiene given that some of them are displaced and tend to use some unorthodox materials and substances on their body due to lack of essential hygiene items.
On Challenges faced, Ndobesang stated that insecurity is top of the list. He also said the misconception of some persons in the communities that organisations are bringing in lots of money and things to share, makes work difficult as their project for now focuses on educating and empowering those in need. He said the lack of resources to satisfy the very high demand is a big challenge too.
On her part, the Executive President said before the crisis, MWDA has been carrying out education and empowerment in agriculture, home management, personal hygiene and others before the crisis. She said to maintain moral standards, the programme is also giving moral and civic education. To her, the programme is giving a lot of hope to those who had been trapped in their local communities because they don’t have who or where to rush to. To the teachers and facilitators, she said it is helping some of them refresh their skills. Some beneficiaries of the Radio Education programme recorded success in the First School Leaving Certificate, using knowledge acquired through their radio lessons.