By Tikum Mbah Azonga
This article is an adaptation of an earlier one I broadcast on the Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) National Radio Station on the 27th of August 2003. The paper examines the vexatious issue of the Cameroon government’s repeated refusal to accept Religious Studies as a subject, like any other one at the General Certificate of Education (GCE). The paper is one of many I broadcast on the same channel between 2002 and 200, on the early morning prime time national and world news broadcast.
One academic year has gone and another is about to begin, with all the frenzy it usually takes to get into a new school year. Rightly, each year Cameroon’s media organs give return to school pride of place in their coverage.
The issue of subject combination for new holders of the ‘O’ Levels becomes very topical with the plot thickening further as students add Religious Studies just to swell up the numbers, knowing very well that at the end of the day, when they officially count the number of subjects obtained, Religious Studies will count for nothing.
It goes without saying that the many, probably thousands, who passed in that subject at the ‘A’ Level this year have come to swell further the ranks of those already in that category of unemployment for years now. If appropriate action is not taken, then the numbers will continue to pile up year after year with the result being the continuous postponement of a solution that should have come much earlier.
The disturbing fact is that although Religious Studies is blocked, so to speak, at the top end; the fact is that at the level of the G.C.E Board, the subject is being administered with all seriousness. The question the government ought to answer is: if Religious Studies is bad for students or even the nation, then why allow it to be taught and examined?
It is a contradiction in terms that at a time when the fight against corruption is being stepped up in our country, Religious Studies, the one curricular discipline which stands to go a long way towards paving and smoothing the way for a future corruption-free country, is instead being treated with scorn and derision. Why should that subject be shot down like an ominous bird when daily in our courts the Holy Bible is used for swearing? How can we exclude Religious Studies from public life and still go to the church and pray? How can we spit on the subject, yet think we can build a nation that is morally strong and upright?
Surely the authorities must take an urgent look at this burning issue; otherwise, we would be shooting ourselves in the foot and selling ourselves short.