Cameroon authorities have set the miracle year 2035 as the point where all its economic and development problems would be a thing of the past.
There is a lot of money in Cameroon. Ministers and directors have been jailed for each stealing, misappropriating, embezzling or mismanaging dozens of billions FCFA. Others have simply shipped billions to Swiss banks and other tax havens.
The problems presented as Cameroon's undoing are supposed to have been solved decades ago considering the number of candidates graduated from our universities with terminal degrees.
At least, basic or elementary education should be given to everybody to enable them function in society without bothering others. Being able to (R)ead, w(R)ite and do a(R)ithmetic (the three Rs) are the essentials the United Nations guarantees everybody at the level of basic education.
Beyond basic education, all aspirants to higher education should be ready to join the limited community of thinkers and specialists who solve problems.
Somebody just whispered that maybe a secondary education pass should be considered as having completed basic education as most first school leavers today can barely spell their names.
Nevertheless, aspirants for higher education should have pinpointed societal problems they want to solve upon graduation.
I was in Zimbabwe in 1999 and discovered that old Bob Mugabe made the writing of each candidate's vision of Zimbabwe to be part of their application to higher education institutions.
Candidates for higher education had the task to prepare a vision or mission statement clearly outlining what they wanted to do in the future with the education they were aspiring for that would improve on the standard of living of Zimbabwe.
After 25 years in power, Robert Mugabe could challenge Prime Minister John Major to return and manage his England while allowing him Mugabe to manage his Zimbabwe. That was in the middle of a galloping inflation soaring above one million percent.
How Zimbabwe came out of that inflation despite isolation and sanctions by the West is a test case on how to reflect and solve local problems. This has forced me to twice revise my opinions about the bleeding sadza Zimbabwe had become. Zimbabwe, I am tempted to say, albeit prematurely, is a true case study on how to evolve a system capable of isolating and insulating itself and forging a localize solution to global problems.
Zimbabwe imports petrol, yet petroleum products are cheaper in Zimbabwe without a coastline than Cameroon with many seaports.
Until Cameroon's education have a complete overhaul to make sure those hundreds of thousands aspiring for a higher education are technocrats and thinkers of change and progress, 2035 might have to come twice.
In the Central African sub region, Cameroon is the one country with the highest number of people with a terminal degree. A good exhibition of the doctorates and PhDs carried by Cameroonians could be seen across amphitheaters on the many nascent universities mushrooming in the education landscape of the country.
These paper tigers, except for a few, are not known beyond the cobwebbed walls of the amphitheaters where they lecture, hence limiting them to parochial faculties. This only highlights the limitations of their research, if ever they did research, to the purposes of filling notebooks for students to pass examinations.
It is commonplace to hear Cameroonians with master's degrees complaining that they do not know what to do with their qualifications. It is an aberration!
Cameroon public authorities should go back to the drawing board and redesign an educational system targeted at solving the country's problems. The hundreds of thousands of those blindfolded to simply follow the crowd through schools should be released from the universities to join the other farmers on the field, first for food security, and secondly to create wealth for the country. As it stands, Cameroon's higher education is a waste of resources and manpower which should have been turning this fertile land into a Garden of Eden.
A new vision for economic emergence 2035 in Cameroon would first be an emergence from the old order of wasteful education.
Fon Christopher Achobang
Human rights activist
Land Rights Campaigner