Safety and Security in NW Schools: Confessional and Private schools take lead with dress code challenges

By Bakah Derick 

Schools in Bamenda have begun preparations for the 2021/2022 academic year with safety and security as a priority considering the current armed conflict in the region. 
         School fence of a school in Bamenda

While a majority of confessional and Private schools are taking more visible measures, government institutions seem to be moving at snail pace. 

In a visit to some schools in Bamenda, we could see restriction fences raised or being raised. The officials say they are contructing these fences to be able to control access to the school buildings. 

"With the fence, we will be able to control access to the school building by locking the gates and monitoring the entrances during school hours." Rev Titus a school principal said. 

Added to the fence, others have installed security cameras. 

"We have installed security cameras all over the fence and within the school premises. This will help us monitor anyone loitering around the fence and close range areas even within the school. We need to monitor everyone because someone can still disguise as a student and smoggle himself in here." Madam Mary promoter of a private school explained 

With the fence and security cameras, she is still going further. 

"We are also going to provide badges with pictures  to all our staff members to facilitate work for our security personel. This will prevent older people who have no business with the school from walking in here anyhow." She said adding that they are even considering badges for students. 

For some of the boarding schools, the use of a restricted dress code shall be mandatory. 

"For those in the boarding house, they will have to wear uniforms but for the day students, since we cannot guarantee their safety out of campus, we will only expect them to wear uniforms during school hours. They will be at liberty to change to assorted wears before going home." Rev Fr Titus said 

On the detection of contrabands like arms,  metals and hard drugs,  Madam Mary stated "We have instructed our security staff to do checks of all bags entering the school premises. We shall also be providing them with metal detectors to facilitate their work." 
A majority of the government schools we visited had no adminsutrator on campus but a few heavily armed state forces in some of the schools. 

Since 2017, the North West Region of Cameroon has witnessed a serious drop in school attendance following calls for boycott by people advocating for the creation of a separate country called Ambazonia. Though many started returning to schools with an increase in 2020,, destruction of school infrastructure and kidnapping of teachers, students and event parents of school going children have remained preoccupations to be handled. 

For the secure of those we interviewed the names used in this report are not their real names. We have have also withheld names of the schools we visited.