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Science - Education | Human rights

Cameroon students on hunger strike

Protesting students at Yaoundé University

© Laura Arranz / afrol News
afrol News, 25 April
- The conflict between the Cameroon government and students at Yaoundé University is becoming graver. The Association for the Defence of the Rights of Cameroonian Students (ADDEC), representing Yaoundé students, after several failed dialogue and cooperation attempts with the Cameroonian government, has launched a hunger strike at the university premises.

The troubled situation started on 25 September 2004, as students wrote a letter to the Cameroonian government asking for dignified conditions at the Yaoundé University. After waiting for an answer for several months, students on 11 April decided to prepare for the ongoing hunger strike as the only remaining means of putting pressure on political leaders.

The students have a long list of social demands. These include the lowering of student fees, which in their eyes are too high and unjustified for young Cameroonians without resources. Further, they demand a promulgation of the student status, the introduction of scholarships, which are non-existent in Cameroon, better financing of the universities and more funds for research and science.

The Yaoundé students also point to other facts making university life in the capital disgraceful. Basic infrastructure such as toilets and canteens is close to non-existent or not in use due to lack of maintenance and reparation. The scarcity of laboratory equipment or the lack of slate in classrooms was obstructing the education of thousands of Cameroonians, the students complain.

The new protest form has now resulted in almost 15 days without food for the students. Meanwhile, the protests are getting a political character against the government of President Paul Biya, whose only response so far has been silence. The government does not want to engage in talks, thus being accused of totally forgetting and abandoning the youth of Cameroon.

The protesting students are waiving with posters and placards denouncing rampant corruption and an unjust distribution of public funds. According to the students, the poor situation at the country's universities is not due to government lack of funds but rather corruption and embezzlement of funds.

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