In Canton Bidimba, eastern Cameroon, children have long abandoned the classrooms in search of precious minerals. It is a disturbing issue that has caught the attention of a non-governmental organization, FODER in this gold mining village.
“We realized that we were in the bush with children of school-going age who end up on mine sites working instead of going to school like everyone else’’, Yamdjeu Patrick, a parent and President of the APEE school told our Cameroonian correspondent, Joël Kouam.
So Sodéa Philipe of the NGO FODER, thanks to their Promess program, in partnership the village chief, are on a mission to mining sites to sensitize parents on the merits of schooling their children.
“Through our various awareness-raising activities, we have gone out into the field on many occasions to raise awareness among parents, most of whom have their children on mining sites, showing them the importance of education, and its impact on their children’s future’’, he said.
A palpable example can be seen on this vast open-pit mining field in the village of Yassa. Here, as in everywhere else, children are out on the field along with adults. At this mine site, according to the statistics, 80% of the children can benefit from the school project. However, the major challenge is to convince parents who are still reluctant to send their children to school.
Denis Koumbou Sanda is the Director Bidimba Primary School.
“The second difficulty is that some parents don’t yet know the need for school. We are on the border with the CAR, so many parents are leaving to come and mine here. And so many don’t yet understand the importance of education’’, Koumbou said
For the NGO, which is passionate about building schools in these mining villages, the aim is beginning to be realized.
Joël Kouam reports that ‘’this very first school welcomed 130 pupils, while there are still 20% of the children working on gold mines in the village of Yassa Canton Bidimba.’’