By Ikome Christie-Noella Eposi in Buea
Over 20,000 children in the South West region have been granted access to education thanks to the ‘Radio Education program’ initiative implemented by the Mbonweh Women’s Development Association in Cameroon (MWDA), in partnership with the United Nation International Children Education Fund (UNICEF).
Geared towards promoting education, inspiring hope to the local communities and encouraging the dreams and visions of the children, the Project ‘Radio Education program’ intervenes in reaching the unreached, boost the educational awareness and empowerment of the displaced and deprived school children as a consequence of the ongoing crisis. The program equally aims at reducing illiteracy, violent actions, drugs and alcohol consumption, teenage pregnancies etc.
In a press briefing which took place this Friday January 27, 2023 at the MWDA office in Mutengene, Tiko Sub-division SWR, the President/ Coordinator of MWDA, Evelyn Nojang stated that Mbonweh means unity and it was created in 1988 by a group of women leaders who had a mission to empower and develop the women, youths and children, looking for a means to remove them from crisis and poverty into stability and self-sufficiency. “Mbonweh believes that education cannot wait and we have also carried out many empowerment projects to the women, youths and communities as a whole” she explained.
The Executive President of MWDA, Asaba Prudencia adding her voice to the previous speaker and talking about the impact of the program noted that the project has given the communities hope. “The children in these communities through this radio education program know that all hope is not lost. The delinquency rate has reduced, it has reduced stress on the parents and it has helped the children to cope with the society and the present context. The program also gives a holistic education because we realized that the children equally need survival skills, psychosocial support, hygienic and moral education”. She averred.
It is equally worth noting that Mbonweh Women’s Development Association also provides dignity kids to the children especially the children mothers to enable them take care of their basic hygiene. Asides from providing the children with the radio education programs, didactic materials were also handed to them to enable them effectively carryon the education process.
Ndobegang Sylvanus is the Humanitarian Affairs Officer of MWDA who also stated that the radio education program was identified as one of the only alternatives which was going to be context realistic. “Through the radio we were also able to educate and inform the children on personal protection so as to avoid them getting in harm’s way. We equally offered vocational training programs which allowed the children to gain basic skills for sustainability”.
He added the project is carried out by supervisors identified by MWDA who train facilitators in the communities who then educate the children with the different educational programs. Mentioning some challenges faced, the HRO stated that having the facilitators get accepted in the field without demands for unnecessary payoffs has been a major challenge. “We have also recorded some insecurity challenges such as kidnap of supervisors and facilitators and lastly we have experienced lack of resources” he voiced. He appealed on good-will donors to support the UN and MWDA in the full attainment and realization of its objectives.
The project which started in October 2022 and will end in June 2023 is carried in 4 divisions in the SWR; Fako, Meme, Kupe-Muanenguba and Lebialem and it is implemented across 9 sub-divisions in the region; Muyuka, Tiko, Mbonge,Konye, Nguti, Bangem, Alou, Fontem and Wabane. Presently Mbonweh runs 4 primary schools and 1 vocational center. It is important to note that the Radio Education Program contains inbuilt numeric lessons which comprises of 72 numeric and 72 English lessons to improve on the children’s speaking, writing, listening and calculating ability.