Changing regimes and the development of education in Cameroon 1886-1966 (with special reference to the Basel Mission)
Education in contemporary Cameroon consists of two distinct unreformed systems inherited from colonial regimes which are unsuitable for modern Cameroon. Western Education was introduced in 1844 by the British Baptist Missionary Society and encouraged by colonial regimes (Germans 1884-1916, British and French 1916-1961). Since independence (1961), the failure to restructure education to reflect common national values has been identified by analysts with its colonial origins. Yet the different systems (Missions and colonial) had varying impacts and the inter-relationships between each system and Cameroonians differed. This study therefore examines whether the impact of the respective colonial and Missionary education systems alone can explain the present stalemate in Cameroon education or other factors are accountable. It assesses the role and motives of colonial regimes, Missions and Cameroonians in education and examines the impact of the different motives and inter-relationships on post-colonial attitudes to education. The central argument is that the current reform impasse cannot be explained by a single factor. The respective colonial and Mission education systems and the reactions of Cameroonians were examined chronologically, using mostly primary sources. It was found that the Germans and the British were liberal to Missions as against a stronger French control. The Germans' desire for a protestant Mission together with the British tolerance to foreign Missionary societies, sustained the Basel Mission. Cameroonian interests and attitudes also influenced the pattern of education. Finally, the constraints of global economic and political forces have reinforced the deadlock on institutional reforms. Thus the impact of the respective educational legacies and the perceptions and reactions of Cameroonians at different stages of educational growth are found to have combined with the socio-economic and political developments since independence to explain the stalemate. To attain educational change, this study recommends the importance of creating awareness among teachers and parents and the wider public on the need for reform. It also suggests that further research be conducted on pre-colonial attitudes to education and on Cameroon cultures to identify indigenous educational ideas with relevance to modem education as well as those traditional values that can enrich the educational system, and eventually generate common national and international interests.