October is back to school month for university students in Cameroon. Better Breed Cameroon, though a youth development association targeting young people in all institutions has university students as primary target for most of its projects. So we thought why not give our regular target population a message to start the year off right?
One of the sub-themes of this year’s Forum of Students in Cameroonian Universities (FETUC) held at the University of Dschang was, ‘Student Contribution in the Emergence of Cameroon’. Now if you’ve been listening to teachers, the media, and your parents etc. you would know by now that our nation has a ‘vision’ and supposedly a plan to emerge by the year 2035. This means in less than two decades, we’re supposed to be a budding developed country and of course you as young people, as products of higher education are to assist in the achievement of this.How though?
Let’s be honest, no young person was on board when the year 2035 was selected and none of those who sat at the table to choose that year will be alive/active at that time. So how did they decide on that year? What will determine that we are emerging, what indicators are we to look for come 2035 to decide we’ve achieved our ‘emergence’. What’s the plan/road-map to this emergence? Do the young people who will be leaders at that time know the original plan? Should the people who began this pass away or become inactive, does the plan and any progress made freeze? And if young people are not engaged in planning for a year when they would be the ones in charge, how can they positively contribute to this development? Well one way is by developing themselves and their locales.
While we find ourselves in the context where young people are limited in avenues of national leadership and legal mediums through which they may make their voices heard, these limits and barriers are broken down if and when they equip themselves and act with what is available to them. As you being yet another academic year we hope you keep in mind that YOU are the change and this development we all speak of is not some abstract end point of the whole country, but rather development is each of us reaching some level of fulfillment of personal purpose and civic duty. Thus consider developing yourself and acting with what you have available to make a difference towards the whole. How can you do this as a university student?
1- Raise your level of consciousness. It is your civic duty to know -irrespective of what you’re studying- the structure of your government, our policies, our laws, our leaders. Do not rely on heresy, watch the news, read and think critically about what is presented to you. Raising your level of consciousness will ensure you act more upright, become more able to recognize abuse of rights and take legal action. You need to know what is wrong to be able to fix it and you need to be conscious to be able to use what little opportunity you may be offered to voice your thoughts effectively. We’ll surely emerge quicker if the majority o the population loses its ignorance and bias. We encourage you to read Bernard Fonlon’s The Genuine Intellectual a timeless work decrying the need for universities to produce.
2- As a student you can equally develop yourself and your community by volunteering. If you haven’t noticed by now, Better Breed Cameroon is a big advocate for volunteering. By volunteering you will be garnering pragmatic skills to enable you back up your academic journey in the university. Your volunteer experience need not be in some office of prestige, you can volunteer on the ground in numerous ways helping to develop your local community in the process. Same volunteering experience would undoubtedly equip you towards increased employability upon graduation. By developing yourself in this way therefore you have helped not only the area where/people to whom you have offered free services to, but you would have equally addressed on of the countries pertinent problems- unemployment- ensuring you are more ready for the job market.
3- Yet another way students can develop themselves and contribute towards vision 2035 is by using alternative mediums now available with information technology. While students may face restrictions in terms of opportunities to develop themselves in a field of choice, voice their opinion on government policies, and having their views considered and needs met, the internet and modern tech apps provide a wide array of resources for self-development, a catalog of opportunities available to young people internationally and an endless source of information ready to be tapped. Students of this generation are more fortunate than any other for their access to the internet and applications ready to be used for self-development and a medium for them to develop their own. For instance, sex education being inadequate and lacking comprehensiveness in Cameroon, a young sexual health advocate Mallah Tabot designed an app called Ndolo 360 which young people can use to have straight-forward, necessary information about all things sex related. Innovative creations made accessible with use of the information technology such as this app offer young Cameroonians what the nation at the moment does not. This app offers young people much need knowledge enabling them make informed sexual choices and there are a bevy of other such resources existing online and as cell applications. How are you using what available to you today to grow and contribute to your country’s growth?
We shall end here for now, suffice it to say your time as a student should be used with purpose. The theme of FETUC 2016 outlined above got it right when they highlighted the role of students in achieving the countries current vision. Though our young people were not involved in the conception of this vision initially and have yet to be truly involved in the planning, you all have it in you (and have the duty) to ready yourselves to act for national development and a Better Cameroon tomorrow.
This academic year, we challenge you to be the #BetterBreed