Interviewed by Grace Ongey
The first Commonwealth Summer School has held in Cameroon. It provided a unique opportunity for students from Commonwealth countries and a team of international academics to interact with each other in an informal atmosphere. The National Coordinator of Cameroon Student Association, Michael Ndimancho spoke to L'Effort Camerounais about this initiative and how he hopes to surmount the challenges that lie ahead. Excerpts:
It is not actually a school as such but an annual event that is organised within the Commonwealth. The event was held in July this year in Cameroon. It will move to another Continent the next time it is held. Four continents, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific are involved in the Commonwealth Summer School. It is therefore a forum that brings together students from all these continents who brainstorm about Commonwealth activities. The Commonwealth places a lot of importance on youths who are mostly students. One of the issues we discussed at the Commonwealth Summer School was youths as students and students as youths.
What does it take to be a member of this forum?
You must belong to a university because this event is organised by the Association of Commonwealth Universities, ACU, although it is under the Commonwealth secretariat in London. It is not just any university but one that is an adherent to the Association of Commonwealth Universities. All universities in Cameroon are affiliated in London as Commonwealth universities.
How do you bring together students of the different State universities?
The dean of the Faculty of Letters at the University of Douala, Dr. Kizitus Mpoche coordinates all State universities that belong to the Association of Commonwealth Universities in Cameroon.
Why was Cameroon chosen to host the first Commonwealth Summer School?
The Director of the Association of Commonwealth Universities in London, Dr. John Kirkland said of the 53 member countries of the Commonwealth Association of Universities, Cameroon is the most outgoing country in terms of education. Many people were surprised to hear this from a foreigner. They realised Cameroon is an emerging country intellectually and economically and they saw the need to inaugurate this Summer School in Cameroon so that it could be a torch bearer to others.
How do you assess your present responsibility?
It is an uphill task as London was watching to see if Cameroon will keep the promise of inaugurating the Commonwealth Summer School. We plan to hold a constitutional meeting on September 24. I am expected to visit the eight state universities and sensitise students. This is not going to be easy. However, the Commonwealth Association of Universities assured me they will support me. In Cameroon the Ministries of Higher Education, Youth and Commonwealth, the British High Commission, Nigerian Consulate, and the Canadian Embassy are partners. The September constitutional meeting will designate members and delegates. Thereafter work will be partitioned and probably my burden will become lighter.
How can someone interested contact you?
I am a student of Douala University and I am using Douala University as the main contact. It is only after September 24 that a headquarters shall be chosen.
Do you have any take home message?
Youths should be active so that they can influence decisions that concern them. I was talking to some youths recently about the upcoming Presidential elections in Cameroon. I told them we cannot let others decide our future for us. So, it is important for youths to carry out their civic responsibility. Youths should therefore be partners in development and nation building. Every youth should join the Commonwealth Student Association as it has opportunities for everyone.