Educational Corruption in Cameroon and its Impact on Students

Mben, Joseph Loic (2010) Educational Corruption in Cameroon and its Impact on Students. Licentiate thesis, Santa Clara University Berkeley, California.

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My interest in this topic of educational corruption originates in two separate incidents where I acted in different capacities as a high school student and teacher. The first one occurred almost twenty years ago as I was completing my junior years of high school. A female student, who performed poorly throughout the quarter with grades around E, had these turned into C when transcripts were handed over to us at the end of the quarter. Although this incident is now remote in the past, I can still see the stunned eyes of my classmates looking at her jubilation for her achievements. It was difficult to explain how a student whose grades where around 15 and 20% suddenly landed with an overall grade above 50%. At the time none of us knew exactly what had happened, but there were suspicions that she got what we called „STM‟ (sexually transmitted marks). I had heard about the word „corruption,‟ but I was too young and uninformed to realize that what had taken place was a corrupt act. The second incident is more recent and goes back to 2005. At the time I was teaching philosophy to final year high school seniors; one of my classes was about justice. As I was outlining some of the principles of justice, some of the students challenged those principles. They asked me if I knew a place where these principles of fairness and equity were respected, because in the environment in which they lived it was not. They went to the extent of affirming that even in courts of law, these principles were not observed. I need to clarify that most of these students were from well-off families, and they might have witnessed how their own parents/legal guardians proceeded during the years, and some even had not been admitted following proper procedures. This made me realize the extent of the damage caused by a widespread practice of corruption. Our students were not spared since it affected their perception of the world. These two separate incidents triggered my interest in the topic, and since they had taken place in the same country and the same city, I wanted to look at them more closely. Corruption is a recurrent topic in Cameroon. The first time I heard the word was when I was finishing elementary school and starting high school back in the late 1980s. At the time, there was this „antelope‟ campaign destined to crack down all the corrupt elements of the public service. As a high school student I witnessed many instances where some students were fraudulently admitted into the school or paid to get the subjects before the exams. In those days, we found it funny, and would tell a classmate that they got into our class through the window. In my last years of high school, national examinations‟ leaks were labeled as „water.‟ During my brief time as a high school teacher, I noticed that things had gone from bad to worse. Hence, I wanted to take the opportunity of this thesis to look deeply into this phenomenon. I have divided my work into three chapters. The first chapter will provide general information about education in Cameroon and introduce educational corruption. The first section will sketch out the principal features of education in Cameroon: how it is organized and run, and what its strengths and weaknesses are. The second section will define educational corruption and outline its principal features, namely corrupted functions, systems of accreditations and supplies. The next section will describe the major signs of educational corruption in Cameroon through the three dimensions; it will also look at the dimension of personal misconduct with a focus on transactional sex. Then, I will bring out the causes of educational corruption distinguished into two groups, remote and immediate. The second chapter will relate educational corruption with justice to students understood as the poor. Drawing from biblical sources and liberation theology, I will demonstrate why students are understood as the „poor.‟ After that I will bring authors or groups of authors to demonstrate the vital relationship between social justice and care for the poor. These will be biblical prophets, liberation theologians, and John Rawls. Next to them I will present Catholic Church‟s magisterial documents. Attention will be paid to documents from the Sacred Congregration for Catholic Education, papal encyclical letters Populorum Progressio and Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, and Decree 4 of General Congregation 32 of the Jesuits. I will look at how questions of corruption, social justice, education and the poor are handled in these texts. Then the 2000 pastoral letter of the Bishops‟ conference of Cameroon will be analyzed with an emphasis on educational corruption. I will end the chapter by highlighting the emphases of Catholic Social Teaching on the option for the poor. The third chapter will be an attempt to build a new vision in order to overcome educational corruption. The first step will be a rigorous analysis of power relationships at play in Cameroonian society in general, and in educational corruption in particular. From there, I will suggest the national anthem as a locus where the constructive work could start. As part of the common heritage of Cameroonian, it is something that could help trigger our imagination. I will then narrow my focus to Catholic teaching by suggesting the principle of subsidiarity as an attitude that could change local habits. For this work, I have relied mainly on books and surveys carried out in Cameroon mainly. For the theoretical part I have taken inspiration from authors from diverse horizons. I have tried to strike a balance between secular and theological sources. My main sources are from the field of social sciences, political theory, systematic, moral and biblical theology. I have used a descriptive method in the first chapter and genealogical and archeological methods in Chapters 2 and 3. Educational institutions located in urban centers are the scope of my thesis. I would like to say that one of my difficulties during this work was the scarce and scattered material on this particular topic.

Item Type: Thesis (Licentiate)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology
L Education > LC Special aspects of education
Divisions: Africana
Depositing User: Tim Khabala
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2017 08:59
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2017 08:59

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