Education International Barometer of Human & Trade Union Rights in Education
Republic of Cameroon
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  Pre-primary Primary Secondary Tertiary Spending % of
Cameroon Total %F %P GER NER Total %F %P GER NER PTR Completion
% Total
% F
Total %F %P GER NER PTR Total %F %P GER GDP Public
2014 467235 50.14 63 34 25 4142775 46.76 23 113 95 44 72 68
2013 1812849 45.81 27 52 40
2012 388585 50.28 65 30 21 3848611 46.36 23 111 91 46 73 68 1713452 45.82 26 50 39 21 3 15
2011 339519 50.33 61 27 19 3585173 46.17 21 106 45 69 64 1574451 45.51 25 47 24 244233 42.22 15 12 3 15
2010 316722 50.16 65 25 18 3510396 46 23 106 46 70 64 220331 44.69 14 11 3 19
2009 287885 50.33 65 24 17 3350662 46.05 23 104 84 46.32 68 62 1268655 45.2 40 174144 43.94 13 9.03 3 20
2008 263855 50.17 66 22 16 3201477 45.87 23 102 81 46.04 68 62 1127691 44.15 29 36 26 147631 44.06 14 8 2.9 16
2007 217284 49.9 20.99 14.45 3120357 45.88 110.04 44.43 42.78 39.43 132134 43.87 7.16 3.33 22.6
2006 195183 49.84 19.32 2998135 45.25 107.4 44.69 48.9 39.53 698444 43.95 23.77 16.17 120298 41.76 6.69 2.96
2005 19974 49.28 66.49 19.5 3000781 45.24 108.06 47.81 53.9 48.8 784203 43.84 27.15 16.17 99864 39.5 5.72 3.12
2004 175970 49.54 64.33 19.59 2979011 45.79 23.46 116.75 53.9 1160957 40.94 43.1 43.78 32.66 83903 38.78 8.6 5.28 3.82 17.16
2003 138716 49.79 62.1 15.55 2798523 45.7 23.46 110.59 57.06 1019958 40.83 39.3 26.82 81318 38.78 8.87 5.28 3.81 17.32
2002 132339 49.7 61.33 14.93 2741627 45.93 24.87 109.42 60.8 58.8 57.88 932201 42.53 33.67 36.76 77707 38.78 8.51 5.22 3.55 14.52
2001 125674 49.86 60.36 14.29 2689052 46.16 26.35 108.65 62.72 43.81 45.06 848276 44.06 34.28 68495 7.83 4.75 3.16 12.49
2000 122366 49.4 58.7 14.04 2237083 45.74 27.26 91.77 51.86 29.01 4.71 2.36 9.85
1999 103908 48.38 56.99 12.04 2133707 44.87 27.67 89.1 51.86 77.67 626053 45 31.62 26.67 23.75 9.52 4.95 2.32 9.85
Last updated: 15 June 2007


Cameroon is a republic dominated by a strong President who has controlled the government since independence in 1982; he was re-elected in 2004 with approximately 70% of the vote in a flawed election that was nevertheless deemed freer and fairer than those that preceded it. The President controls legislation or can rule by decree; only bills proposed by the President have been enacted by the National Assembly.

In 2004 the National Assembly considered a bill submitted by an opposition party. The President has used his legislative power to change the constitution and extend the terms of the presidency. He appoints all ministers and the governors of the 10 provinces and can appoint officials of the 58 provincial subdivisions. More than 180 political parties exist, but fewer than 10 have any level of support, and only 5 have seats in the National Assembly. Members of the Beti/Bulu ethnic group are not only prominent in the government, the civil service and state-owned businesses but also disproportionately represented in the military. Women hold 18 of 180 seats in the National Assembly and 6 of 61 cabinet posts. Pygmies are not members of the legislature or the government.

Discrimination on the basis of race or language is prohibited but continues to occur.

The judiciary is independent but is reported to be subject to executive interference, inefficient and corrupt. The Ministry of Justice is part of the Presidency, and all judges are appointed by the President. Both national and customary law are used, and in rural areas the traditions of the predominant ethnic group hold sway. Customary courts serve in civil disputes related to succession, inheritance and child custody.

Some security forces are accused of torture and unlawful killings. Mob violence and summary justice are common against those suspected of theft; the practice of witchcraft results in death or serious injury. Insufficient funding and inadequate training result in poorly prepared police. Transparency International's 2005 Global Corruption Barometer reports that citizens of Cameroon view the police as extremely corrupt. Impunity is a problem. Corruption is a serious problem in all branches of government, and the lack of transparency in managing revenues from an international oil pipeline has resulted in pressure from international financial institutions to publish oil revenues on the Prime Minister's web site.

Freedom of speech and of the press are guaranteed legally but restricted in practice. Strong libel laws silence criticism. Journalists practise self censorship to avoid intimidation, harassment and criminal penalties. The influence of print media is minimal, and the government controls the broadcast media. Radio remains the most important medium for most citizens. Journalists are accused of ethical breaches by accepting payment from politicians and businessmen to write articles that make allegations against competitors. Access to government information does not exist.

Cameroon is a source, transit and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labour. Most trafficking is internal, and children are at greatest risk. Children are trafficked for forced labour on cocoa plantations. The government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making an effort to do so. It has signed a partnership agreement with the ILO to build awareness through a programme directed at street children. The Ministry of Education collaborates with the ILO to work with high school students on trafficking prevention.

Homosexuality is illegal, and a possible prison sentence or fine is imposed. Prosecution is rare, but homosexuals suffer harassment and extortion.


?Education Rights

Schooling is compulsory to age 14. Education is not free. Parents have to pay uniform and book fees for primary school, and tuition and other fees for secondary education, making education unaffordable for many families. Measures to improve access to schools are being considered. The Ministry of Education reports that 72.2% of girls aged 6 to 14 are enrolled in school, compared with 81.3% of boys. UNICEF reports that the secondary school Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) is 36% for boys and 29% for girls.

The low education rate is often attributed to socio-cultural prejudice, early marriage, sexual harassment, unwanted pregnancy and domestic chores, but the cost of education is a primary barrier. The results of a study on the country's education system revealed a disparity between the potential number of students and the capacity of the schools. Pre-schools serve only 16% of possible students. The northern provinces are the most underprivileged, with only 5.7% of teachers working in this area. Elementary schools have enough seats for 1.8 million students, though 2.9 million actually attend school.


?Early Childhood
Education (ECE)

A 2-year programme of ECE begins at age 4. The Net Enrolment Rate (NER) is 51%, and 64% of ECE is provided privately. 50% of students at this level are girls. 8,882 teachers (97% female) are employed in ECE. 61% are trained. The pupil/teacher ratio (PTR) is 20 : 1


?Primary Education

Education is compulsory for ages 6 to 11. Primary education begins at age 6 and lasts for 6 years. 23% of primary education is private. 46% of students are girls. 25% of students repeat grades (46% of them girls). The teaching staff numbers 55,266 (45% female), of whom 69% are trained. The PTR is very high at 54 : 1


?Secondary Education,
Vocational Education and Training

Age 12 is the entry age for a 7-year programme of secondary education. 43% of education at this level is private. The GER is 44% (51% of boys, 36% of girls). 10% of students repeat a grade level. 35,543 teachers work at this level (36% female). The PTR is 33 : 1.


?Tertiary/Higher Education

89,903 students (39% female) study at this level, and 9% of tertiary education provision is private. 2,993 academics are employed. 1,529 students from other African countries study in Cameroon, while 15,129 Cameroonian students study abroad, mainly in Germany (5,332), France (4,963), USA (1,216), Italy (1,041) and Belgium (896).

In 2005 students demonstrated in protest of the conviction of a professor sentenced to 12 years for theft of academic materials. Security forces disrupted the demonstration, and 50 students were beaten and arrested on charges of participating in an illegal demonstration. (The students had not requested permission to rally.) A student protest over school fees and academic and living conditions resulted in the death of three University of Buea students who were shot and killed. Many others were taken to hospital.


?Children with Special Needs

The government is responsible for part of the educational expense for persons with disabilities; however, the government rarely meets its obligations. Few facilities exist for persons with disabilities, and little public assistance or care is available. The situation for those with mental disabilities is particularly acute. Society treats disabled persons as outcasts.

Mothers are incarcerated with their children or babies if they have no other child care option. Juvenile prisoners are incarcerated with adults, and there are reports of sexual abuse of juveniles. Educational opportunities are rare for the disabled and for incarcerated children.


?Refugee Children

The law provides for the granting of asylum and refugee status in accordance with the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol, and the government has established a system of providing protection to refugees. The UNHCR estimates that approximately 40,000 refugees and 6,000 asylum seekers are in the country. The government cooperates with the UNHCR and other humanitarian organisations in assisting refugees and asylum-seekers.

Refugees in Cameroon do not live in camps. Chadian refugees live among local villagers and have settlements in Yaounde and Douala. Nigerians are in the northwest, where they roam freely with their cattle. A new law grants refugees and nationals the same wage-earning rights. Most refugees work in the informal sector without the protection of labour or social security laws.

The government does not impede agencies from assisting refugees. Both the right to education and the right to social and public assistance are provided in a law that states refugees "shall receive the same treatment as nationals as concerns the right to education, school and university registration fees, and charges for the students' welfare service."


?Minorities and Indigenous Peoples

The population consists of more than 200 ethnic groups, and frequent allegations of discrimination arise. Preferential treatment is given to fellow ethnic group members in government, business and in social practices. The Fulani cattle raisers (M'Bororo) have rights over pastoral land, but forcible displacement has occurred. Ethnic tensions exist between the Fulani and the Kirdi. The Kirdi are socially, educationally and economically disadvantaged. Traditional Fulani rulers subject their people to tithing and forced labour. Isolated cases of Fulani enslavement of Kirdi are reported.

A population of approximately 50,000 to 100,000 Baka (Pygmies, the earliest known inhabitants) live in forested areas. No legal discrimination exists, but other groups exploit them. The forests they inhabit are being logged without fair compensation; the path of the Chad-Cameroon pipeline is on land for which they were not compensated. An estimated 95% of Baka do not have national identity cards and cannot afford the documentation to obtain them. The Ministry of Social Affairs launched a project to allow the issuance of birth certificates and national identity cards to 2,300 Bakas and to help them register hundreds of students in school.


?Academic Freedom

There are no legal restrictions on academic freedom, but state security informants operate on university campuses. Professors report that participation in opposition political parties would adversely affect their professional opportunities and advancement. Strikes in the State Universities of Yaounde I, Dschang, Douala and Buea resulted in violent confrontations between students and security forces. There are no reports of the government restricting access to or monitoring the Internet.


?Gender Equality

Women do not enjoy the same rights and privileges as men. A husband can oppose his wife's right to work in a separate profession. Some employers require a husband's permission before hiring women. Customary law is discriminatory, and in some areas women are regarded as the property of their husbands. In customary law husbands can divorce their wives without verifiable justification or provision of alimony.

Polygyny is permitted. In divorce the husband determines the custody of children over age 6. Women are subject to forced marriage. A widow is unable to collect any inheritance if she is considered part of her husband's property. She may be forced to marry a brother-in-law or repay the bride price in full and leave the family compound.

Domestic violence is common and is not specifically prohibited in law. Spousal abuse is not grounds for divorce. The law does not prohibit female genital mutilation, which continues to be practised in isolated areas. The law prohibits sexual harassment, but very few cases were reported or prosecuted during the year.


?Child Labour

The minimum age of employment is 14. Night work is banned, and tasks are identified that children under 18 cannot legally perform. A child's workday is not to exceed 8 hours. Work contracts must contain a training provision for minors.

Infringements of laws governing child labour are punishable, but the legislation is not enforced. Forced and compulsory labour by children is not prohibited and occurs in practice. Trafficking accounts for 84% of child labour in 3 cities. Children are employed mainly in the informal sector in urban areas, and an increasing number of children work as household help. The ILO estimates that 40% of employed children are girls, of whom 7% are less than age 12 and 60% have dropped out of primary school. The cocoa industry employs up to 9,000 children aged 5 to 17.

Resources to support an effective inspection programme are not allocated. The Institute for Socio-Anthropologic Research of the Yaounde-based Catholic University of Central Africa has undertaken an ILO-sponsored Study on Child Trafficking. An Anti-Child Trafficking law, drafted by the government in cooperation with the ILO, went into effect in late December 2005.


?Trade Union Rights

Workers have the right to form and join trade unions. The government chooses the unions it will bargain with. Collective bargaining is guaranteed in each sector of the economy. Workers have the right to strike after mandatory arbitration, except for civil servants, employees of the penitentiary system or workers responsible for national security. Civil servants negotiate grievances directly with the minister of the appropriate department and the Minister of Labour.

The head of the primary education teachers association was arrested for holding a sit-in at the Prime Minister's office demanding full-time civil servant status instead of the current part-time or temporary status.
Forced or compulsory labour is prohibited, but reports indicate that such practice occurs. Prison inmates can be contracted out to private employers or used as communal labour for municipal public works.

The minimum wage of approximately US$47 (23,514 CFA francs) per month does not provide for a decent standard of living for a worker and family. A standard work week is mandated of 40 hours in public and private non-agricultural firms and 48 hours in agricultural and related activities.

Country/Territory name Republic of Cameroon
Population 17654843 (2005)
ILO Conventions ILO 29 (1960)
ILO 87 (1960)
ILO 98 (1962)
ILO 100 (1970)
ILO 105 (1962)
ILO 111 (1988)
ILO 138 (2001)
ILO 182 (2002)
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