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Claretian Education in Cameroon. SDG 4 EN

by | Nov 26, 2021 | Africa, Gente | 0 comments

 

Pastoral Care in Cameroon: Discerning Emerging, and Pragmatic Pastoral Ministerial Responses in Claretian Schools in Cameroon (I)

Valery Ngam Nyala. E. (Ph.D)

Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf

Headmaster and Provincial Superior

 

Introduction

 

Pastoral care in schools takes different forms in responding to children’s needs in their context. As such it has evolved in response to emerging needs of children over the years. This article aims at shedding some light on approaches employed by pastoral practitioner in schools in Cameroon with emphasis on the response of the Claretian schools. Good pastoral ministry is the stronghold of effective education. Education is a fundamental human right and is indispensable for the achievement of sustainable development. Education is the key that will allow many other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved. When people are able to get quality education they can break from the cycle of poverty. Education therefore helps to reduce inequalities and to reach gender equality. It also empowers people everywhere to live more healthy and sustainable lives. Education is also crucial to fostering tolerance between people and contributes to more peaceful societies. 

 

More than half of children that have not enrolled in school live in sub-Saharan Africa where Cameroon is located, which makes it the region with the largest number of out-of-school children in the world. The situation is getting worse as the Anglophone crisis which started in 2016 continues with its negative impact on the educational sector.  This region has a very young population so it will have to provide basic education to 444 million children between the ages of 3 and 15 in 2030, which is 2.6 times the numbers enrolled today. Women and girls have a more difficulty to access education. Alongside Cameroon, about one-third of countries in the developing regions have not achieved gender parity in primary education.  Girls still continue to face barriers to entering both primary and secondary schools. These disadvantages in education also translate into lack of access to skills and limited opportunities in the labour market for young women. What has been done so far by the Government of Cameroon is to encourage the private sector to invest resources in the development of educational tools and facilities. The Government has urge NGOs and religious organizations to partner with youth and other groups to foster the importance of education within local communities. The government also placed education as a priority in both policy and practice due to the diversity of the country. 

 

Cameroon is heterogeneous with diverse groups of people. Despite this diversity, it is rightly argued that there are clearly discernible elements that are common and can be found in different forms that Cameroonians are organized. These are sanctity of life, relation between illness, misfortune and sin, spirits and ancestors in the life of the community, and life experienced as a whole. Life in Cameroon is viewed (w)holistically. To be whole is to be healthy and free from any sickness or life’s challenges of any kind. The wholeness of life entails being free and being at peace both physically and spiritually. It is against this scenario that pastoral care by churches (religious organizations) that were started by missionaries generally focus on enculturation and correlation with culture.

Claretian Missionaries in Cameroon

 

It is within this context that the Claretian Missionaries in Cameroon emerged and have provided facilities for integral education of the youths. The Claretian Missionaries arrived in Cameroon in 1970 (in the French-speaking part, precisely in Akono, in the Archdiocese of Yaoundé) and in 1986 (in the English-speaking part, precisely in Batibo, in the Archdiocese of Bamenda). Today they are present in nine dioceses (Yaounde, Mbalmayo, Obala, Bafoussam, Bamenda, Kumbo, Kumba, Buea, Garoua and Douala). The apostolate of the Claretian Missionaries in Cameroon is grouped into two main sectors: parish animation and missionary formation with management of schools, youth and vocation ministry as key components. 

 

The Claretians adopted a holistic education system for the pastoral care of the children. Holistic education is a clear departure from the knowledge transmission approach to education that has been familiar in the past. Holistic education prepares a child for lifelong learning in which the educational focus moves towards the life skills, attitudes and personal awareness that the child will need in an increasingly complex world. Many people think holistic education is a new concept in  pastoral education introduced in the past century. It is important to note that it can actually be traced back to the ancient Greeks, who looked at the world as a single whole. Its most famous practitioner was Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator. She believed children are born learners who need a supportive environment to bring out their natural talents.  Montessori posits in a 2018 article, “Educating the Whole Child: Improving School Climate to Support Student Success” says holistic education engages the student at the social, emotional and academic levels. This is where learning happens and it has been applied/practiced in the Claretian schools in Cameroon.

 

The motivation and practice of pastoral care (cura animarum) by the Claretian missionaries in Cameroon has been informed and influenced by the need to develop creative ways to respond to children’s contextual challenges. All parents want their children to be safe and happy at school. The importance of pastoral care goes well beyond this, however. Education and health are closely linked, and recent studies have shown that children with better health and wellbeing are likely to achieve better academically.  Good pastoral care in school is also fundamental to the development of character and social skills, which will be of critical importance to children in later life.


Pattern of Pastoral Care in Claretian Schools in Cameroon

 At its simplest, pastoral care is the provision a school makes to ensure the physical and emotional welfare of pupils. It is the essential foundation upon which learning can take place. Schools with high standards of pastoral care go far further than a basic commitment to welfare, with pastoral care extending to every aspect of school life in order to foster pupils’ personal development as much as their academic progress. Evidence from research show that the aims of their pastoral systems placed emphasis on knowing and understanding each pupil personally with a view to enabling each pupil to realize his/her full potential. As such, tailoring the school’s pastoral system towards the specific needs of its user, the pupil, is of prime importance. The aims also focused on encouraging pupil self-awareness of their present potential whilst relating these to their future contribution to the community. Pastoral systems endeavoured to provide pupils with essential life skills so that they may be competent in assuming their adult roles in society.

Pastoral in schools is key to the Claretian missionary work in Cameroon. One of the key charisma of the Claretians is to touch the lives of people through evangelisation and education. It is also one of the places where they evangelise children and youths through trans-formative education. This was firstly done through parish schools where the Claretians work and lately through their own established academy for wholistic formation. This was done after discerning emerging pragmatic pastoral ministerial needs. The Claretians are responding to the Jesus’ request of Matthew 19:14 ‘let the children come to me.’ When the children come, they Claretians educate them, form them, accompany them, and coach them to become better people in future. The children are formed not only intellectually that is in the head but the heart; with values, to become good citizens who love the world, love their country and ready to change the world. The Claretians through the creation of three schools in Cameroon has made their schools, citadels of knowledge and holistic formation wish to educate, form and to accompany the young people for a better future, a better Cameroon and a better world. 

 

An analysis of the aims and objectives of pastoral care in Claretian schools in Cameroon show that Pastoral Care in the Claretian pastoral ministry sought to: impart in each pupil confidence, self-direction and self-discipline; encourage in each self-awareness of present potential while relating these to future contributions to society. It also, support the academic progress of each pupil through careful monitoring to ensure that each is able to take full advantage of the range of educational opportunities offered by the school. It provides each pupil with practical life skills to deal more effectively with daily living and further develop an awareness of the options available to each pupil on leaving school, to facilitate the transition from school to the world of work, by the provision of experience and necessary skills. It also engenders in each pupil a sense of social responsibility, mutual respect and an awareness of the needs of others, whilst developing social skills to enable each to relate easily to the community and serve it well. Despite the huge progress and efforts put in place to make sure Cameroon children acquire quality education, this has met some challenges that darkens the future. 

Valery Ngam  Nyala. E. (Ph.D) 

Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf

Headmaster and Provincial Superior

 

 

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